Putin says US 'oligarch list' is a hostile act

  • The U.S. Treasury Department published a report listing a number of individuals closely affiliated with the Russian government.
  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the "unprecedented" list had de facto labeled those mentioned as "enemies of the USA," according to Reuters.
  • Alexei Navalny, anti-corruption activist and Russia's best-known opposition leader, said via Twitter: "It's a good list. So far, it's not clear what consequences it will lead to, but it's good that they were all officially recognized as swindlers."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Russian Security Council meeting on January 19, 2018.
Mikhail Klimentyev | TASS | Getty Images
Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Russian Security Council meeting on January 19, 2018.

The U.S. published a sweeping list of Kremlin oligarchs and officials late Monday, triggering a fierce backlash from Russia's leader.

As part of a sanctions law aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the U.S. presidential election, the U.S. Treasury Department published a report listing a number of individuals closely affiliated with the Russian government. It details the names of 114 Russian politicians and 96 oligarchs — some with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The report was a requirement of U.S. legislation passed in 2017, which was designed to ensure that President Donald Trump's administration would continue to keep up the pressure on Moscow over military intervention in Ukraine. However, the U.S. has said those named in the list were not being targeted with new sanctions.

Speaking on Tuesday, Putin said the country was not planning to retaliate but called it an unfriendly act, according to Reuters. He added that it complicates Russia-U.S. ties and said it was stupid to treat Russia like North Korea or Iran.

"We want to establish long-term and stable relations," Putin said, according to the news agency.

'Vicious from the outset'

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov suggested the list could be damaging to the image of Russian firms, businessmen and officials. And while Moscow would look to analyze the report before drawing any further conclusions, Peskov said the "unprecedented" list had de facto labeled those mentioned as "enemies of the USA," according to Reuters.

Alongside Peskov, some of the other names on the list were Alisher Usmanov, part owner of London soccer club Arsenal, and Andrey Kostin, chief executive of the second-biggest lender, VTB.

A spokesperson for Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who is also on the list, told the Financial Times Tuesday that the list was based on "vicious principles."

The Moscow-based oil giant is already subject to U.S. sanctions imposed in 2014. And Mikhail Leontiev, the company's spokesman, told the newspaper: "We do not comment on sanctions, in principle, it is counterproductive ... But we were ready for this, although I see nothing in it which is correct and logical."

"There is nothing surprising in this, given the principles on which these lists are formed ... principles which are vicious from the outset."

Oligarchs officially recognized as 'swindlers'

Meanwhile, Alexei Navalny, anti-corruption activist and Russia's best-known opposition leader, said via Twitter: "It's a good list. So far, it's not clear what consequences it will lead to, but it's good that they were all officially recognized as swindlers."

A long-time critic of Putin, Navalny has urged Russian citizens to boycott Moscow's presidential elections on March 18.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Navalny has been barred from running in the upcoming vote — which he has previously described as rigged —after a 2017 criminal conviction for embezzlement. Critics have said the case against him is politically motivated.

US 'copied the Kremlin phonebook'

Elsewhere, Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the U.S. had just "copied" the Kremlin phonebook with its list of senior officials.

He added it seemed Washington was "desperate" to find the provable evidence they promised regarding Russian politicians.

Meantime, Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy prime minister, said the list looked like a "who's who" of Russian politics, Interfax news agency reported. Therefore, Dvorkovich claimed, it made sense he appeared on the list because he is currently serving as a member of the government.

— NBC NEWS contributed to this report.