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Download Anatomy of a Muddle: U.S. Sanctions against Rusal and Oleg Deripaska
The purpose of The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) is to encourage Russia to desist from “future influence efforts worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes” by imposing pain on the decision makers in the Kremlin. In April 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions under CAATSA on United Company Rusal and Oleg Deripaska. In January 2019, the sanctions were withdrawn against Rusal after U.S. allies complained that destruction of the company would injure their interests. The sanctions against Deripaska remained in effect. This outcome does not serve CAATSA’s purpose. Individuals are replaceable and unlikely to ever be convinced to break ranks with the Kremlin. On the contrary, sanctions against individuals are more likely to force them further into the hands of the Kremlin or even cause their businesses to be nationalized. Only damage to a major Russian industrial enterprise would cause the pain necessary to dissuade the Kremlin from mischief abroad. Any collateral damage to U.S. partners and allies could be avoided in most cases by announcing that sanctions will be imposed on a given Russian enterprise only after a grace period sufficient to give the non-Russian counterparties of the enterprise time to find alternative supplies and to allow the relevant market to rebalance.
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