What Happened: Seven Democratic committee heads from the U.S. House of Representatives have asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to explain the department's Dec. 19, 2018, decision to ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, RFE/RL reported Jan. 9. The Democrats have given the department until Jan. 11 to respond to the request.
Why It Matters: The request reflects increasing pressure on the Trump administration by the Democratic-led House of Representative. The Democrats' push also comes after months of negotiations between the Treasury Department and Deripaska in which the former has pushed the oligarch to reduce his stakes in the sanctioned companies and overhaul the firms' various boards of directors in exchange for a reduction in sanctions.
Background: The United States imposed sanctions against Rusal and EN+ in April 2018 as part of an expansion of measures under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Because Rusal is the second-largest aluminum producer in the world, the move initially caused global aluminum prices to jump by double digits.
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- U.S., Russia: New Sanctions Against Moscow Impede Efforts to Improve Relations (Aug. 9, 2018)