Sanctions on three Russian companies that are allegedly linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of President Vladimir Putinm have been lifted by the Trump administration.
After Mr Deripaska ceded control, sanctions on aluminium giant US Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo were removed.
The Democrats in the US wanted the sanctions to continue which had been initiated after a probe for finding out the link of the oligarch with Russian interference in US elections.
Curbs on oligarch himself remained in force, said the US Treasury Department.
The sanctions on the firms were implemented by the Trump administration in April last year while people and businesses were targeted by the US who allegedly had made profits from a Russian state that was involved in “malign activities” across the globe.
Those activities included the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and a number of international cyber attacks.
However, an attempt to continue the sanctions against Rusal and other companies linked to Deripaska was blocked by the Republicans in the US Senate earlier this month. Rusal is the second largest aluminium firm in the world
Those opposing the continuation of sanctions argued that the global aluminium industry would be impacted by the sanctions. The Republicans and the Trump administration also argued that there were signs that the sanctions were working because Deripaska no longer controlled the companies as he had lowered his stakes in them.
Sanctions against Deripaska and other powerful Russians were announced last April by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Several business groups had been pressurizing the Trump administration to remove the curbs on the three Russian companies. Rusal being one of the biggest suppliers of aluminium in the world, resulted in a spike in the global aluminium prices because of the sanctions announced in April.
But US politicians cried foul when the Treasury Department signalled its intentions in December. Such politicians demanded that the Trump administration should wait till the completion of an investigation in the role of Russia in meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election.
There was a significant break in later in January this year when voting on the opposing of lifting of sanctions against the companies were voted by 136 members of President Trump’s Republican Party along with House Democrats.
Analysts say that the decision of the Trump administration to lift sanctions on the three Russian companies within less than a year since they were imposed is likely to raise questions about the commitment of the Trump administration of taking any punitive action against Russia for its alleged role in the 2016 elections. Supporters of the lifting of the curbs, including the US Treasury Department, have however contended that strict new reporting requirements have been agreed to by the three Russian companies and there has been a significant reduction in the stakes in the three companies by the Russian oligarch who has been at the centre of the dispute, Oleg Deripaska.
(Adapted from BBC.com)