The United States will continue its policy of harsh sanctions against Russia, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying by The Hill.
"I would just comment that this administration has been tougher on Russia and has done more Russian sanctions than before, we will continue to do this," he told reporters after a closed-door briefing for members of the House of Representatives on lifting sanctions against companies linked to Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska.
According to Mnuchin, the US Department of the Treasury "has made its best judgment in applying the law and regulations for us to have effective sanctions programs," TASS reported.
The statement came in response to earlier concerns, expressed by the congressmen over the removal of sanctions. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi earlier said he was "very disturbed" by those developments. "I am afraid this is the tip of the iceberg of the undoing of the sanctions regime," he said.
High-ranking US administration officials have repeatedly said in the past months that they would keep pressing for more sanctions against Russia.
On April 6, 2018, American authorities slapped sanctions on several Russian officials, businessmen and companies. Among them was Oleg Deripaska and companies linked to him, such as Rusal, En+, EuroSibEnergo, GAZ Group, and others. The sanctions stipulate freezing assets on US soil, and banning US citizens from engaging in any business activities with those companies.
The US Treasury initially gave American investors until May 7, 2018, to sell shares and bonds of those companies, and until June 5 to wind down operations or existing contracts with those enterprises. Nonetheless, the deadline was extended several times since then.
On December 20, 2018, it became known that the US Treasury was ready to remove sanctions against En+, Rusal, and EuroSibEnergo within 30 days since Deripaska had agreed to reduce his control in En+ from roughly 70% to 44.95%.