European diplomats in the US have called for En+ and Rusal, two companies belonging to the Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, to be removed from the sanctions list, according to a letter to Chuck Schumer, leader of the democratic minority in the US Senate.
The document, which was published by the European foreign policy service on Friday, January 11, was authored by ambassadors from Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the UK, France and Sweden, Deutsche Welle reports.
The authors believe that lifting the sanctions on Deripaska’s companies En+ and Rusal will safeguard the aluminum plants in the EU and the “source of income for 75,000 employees”.
Aluminum plants in these countries “have faced increased prices and significant challenges in the performance of day-to-day operations, the making of new sales contracts and the renewal of existing contracts,” the letter states.
Aside from “preventing serious damage to the European aluminum industry”, excluding En+ and Rusal from the sanctions list will make it possible “to maintain the current production chains,” which will otherwise “be sent to China, thereby continuing to reinforce its market position in the sector,” the authors stress.
Rusal provides for 20% of the aluminum demand in the EU and 14% in the US, the authors note, adding that the opportunities to increase production in Europe or the Middle East are limited.
Furthermore, “changes to the ownership and control structure” of Deripaska’s companies “significantly reduces Deripaska’s control over them and ultimately strengthens the European aluminum industry and ensures its security,” the document claims.
Both the EU and the US are maintaining “sanctions related to Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea”. Such “close collaboration” is a “key pillar in achieving transformation in Russia’s behavior,” the document emphasizes.
On December 19, 2018, the US Treasury Department announced that the restrictions on Deripaska’s companies En+, Rusal and EuroSibEnergo would be lifted within 30 days, since all three Russian companies had undergone “significant restructuring”, changes to the corporate management, and had agreed to “unprecedented transparency”.
Deripaska himself, however, remains under sanctions, and his assets are still frozen.
On January 5, Chuck Schumer put forward a resolution in US Congress that opposed the decision by the US Treasury Department. In order to maintain the sanctions on Deripaska’s companies, the document must be supported by a majority of both houses of Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.