US draws up list of Russian firms under sanctions law

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Thursday submitted to lawmakers a list of Russian companies with ties to the military and intelligence services that could face sanctions.

A spokeswoman said the list would be made public in the coming days to allow American firms and individuals time to put an end to any business they are doing with the firms.

In July, angered by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and its alleged interference in the US presidential election, Congress passed a law to impose new sanctions on Moscow.

President Donald Trump, who has dismissed reports Russian intelligence tried to swing last year’s vote in his favor, opposed the law, which bans him from lifting the measures.

But the president signed the law in Aug, still complaining it included “clearly unconstitutional provisions”, after Congress approved it by a veto-proof majority.

The law required Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s department to submit a list of entities to face possible sanctions by Oct 1, a deadline it missed.

Lawmakers cried foul and accused the administration of dragging its feet until, 25 days late, the State Department on Thursday sent the list to Congress.

“Secretary Tillerson has signed off on this and it is currently being held on Capitol Hill,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

“The department is currently informing Congress, key US industries and stakeholders and our allies and partners of our … guidance,” she said.

The law requires the government to take action against firms that “knowingly engage in significant transactions” with the entities named on the list from January 29 next year.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in recent weeks a sharp critic of Trump’s character, welcomed the delivery.

“The guidance provided today by the State Department is a good first step in responsibly implementing a very complex piece of legislation,” he said.

“Congress will expect thorough and timely consultation until full implementation is complete.”

The United States has already imposed a range of sanctions on Russia in response to human rights violations and its actions in Ukraine, but the new law goes further.

It will doubtless further chill already frosty US ties with President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, which once hoped that Trump’s election would hasten the end of such measures. — AFP

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