Former US officials and people familiar with deliberations inside the Biden administration said one reason for the selective nature of its sanctions regime was that Washington wanted to avoid the mistakes it made when it targeted Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s aluminium company Rusal and En+ in 2018.
That move had not been properly scrutinised beforehand, according to officials working on the sanctions at the time. It caused market turmoil as aluminium prices rose and industrial customers hurried to secure supplies. To ease the disruption, the US was forced to issue waivers to western companies and individuals working with the Russian groups and eventually took Rusal and En+ off its sanctions list completely.
“Rusal was the first major concern that was blocked and what the Trump administration did as soon as they saw the consequences of that, they gave a free pass to Rusal and Deripaska,” said Edward Fishman, a former Russia and Europe sanctions lead at the US state department.
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