Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!
On 6 April the U.S. targeted seven Russian oligarchs and 12 of their companies in the biggest escalation of Western sanctions against Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The White House said the measurements were a response to “destabilizing and malicious behavior by Russia,” but Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev called the move a manifestation of a protectionist policy “with a veil of sanctions drawn over it.”
The sanctions against Deripaska’s Rusal caused a worldwide surge in aluminum prices and cut production at several of Europe’s biggest aluminum producers, which could no longer take deliveries from Rusal. Many jobs in the industry were at stake, Reuters says.
France, Germany and several other European governments, joined by multinational aluminum producers, immediately started lobbying Washington to reconsider the sanctions.
“We got in touch with the Americans as soon as it became clear there was an impact on some companies operating in France,” a French Finance Ministry official told Reuters.
It seems that the lobbying was successful. Initially, U.S. authorities gave entities doing business with Rusal one month to complete ongoing transactions without facing a penalty. On 23 April the grace period was extended to six months, New York Magazine reported.
The United States could even lift the sanctions on Rusal altogether, on the condition that Deripaska, a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, disentangles himself from the company.
Deripaska, who controls Rusal through the holding En+ Group, agreed “in principle ” to reduce his stake in En+ from 66 percent to just under 50 percent and withdraw from the board of directors, Kommersant reported in April.
It remains to be seen if that will do the trick. Washington has not been clear whether Deripaska has to withdraw completely from Rusal in order for the sanctions to be lifted. And even if the oligarch were to sell off all his shares, that might still not be enough. Deripaska’s wife and father-in-law, who also fall under the sanctions regime, also have a stake in Rusal, Kommersant says in a separate article.
Transitions magazine = Your one-stop source for news, research and analysis on the post-communist region.
Sign up for the free TOL newsletter!
The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.
This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes.
It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.