January 30, 2018 / 12:10 PM / in 5 months

Russia's Putin: U.S. 'oligarch list' is an unfriendly act

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the release of a U.S. list of Russian businessmen close to the Kremlin was an unfriendly act, but Moscow did not currently plan to retaliate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on an electronic screen during a meeting with his confidants ahead of the upcoming presidential election in Moscow, Russia January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

The U.S. Treasury Department named major Russian businessmen in a so-called “oligarchs’ list” which was released earlier on Tuesday.

The list, drawn up as part of a sanctions package signed into law in August last year, does not mean those included will be subject to sanctions, but it casts a potential shadow of sanctions risk over a wide circle of wealthy Russians.

“It is, of course, an unfriendly act. It will complicate the difficult situation Russian-American relations are already in, and of course harm international relations as a whole,” Putin said.

Speaking at meeting with election campaign officials in Moscow, Putin said it was “stupid” to treat Russian in the same way as North Korea and Iran, while also asking Moscow to help broker a peace deal on the Korean peninsula.

But the Russian leader said he still wanted to improve ties with the United States and would refrain from any immediate retaliation.

“We were waiting for this list, and I will not hide it, were ready to take retaliatory steps, serious ones, which would have reduced our relations to zero,” Putin said.

“For now, we will refrain from these steps. But we will carefully watch how the situation develops.”

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Christian Lowe

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