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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/26/19

Kentucky Aluminum Plant Linked to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska

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Donald Trump is not the only government official accepting help from Russia.

Russia is conducting business as we speak right in Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky.

Aluminum manufacturer Braidy Industries is planning to build a $1.7-billion taxpayer-funded mill near Ashland, Ky.

The aluminum needed--and a $200-million investment--for the mill will stem from Russian aluminum giant Rusal, which recently faced U.S. sanctions due to connections to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, once tied to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who once owed Deripaska $10 million, according to a court filing.

The U.S. Treasury Dept. slapped sanctions on Rusal last year partly in retaliation for Russia's occupation of Crimea. However, in January, Treasury announced it intended to lift those sanctions on Deripaska's company and two others based on the grounds the companies have supposedly reduced Deripaska's direct and indirect shareholding stakes.

The new chairman of Rusal's board is Jean-Pierre Thomas, who previously advised former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and helped launch a group advocating for international recognition of Russia's illegal Crimean occupation.

None other than Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Rusal.

Regarding Thomas' appointment to the board, an anonymous Western intelligence official told The Daily Beast:

"To me, it's just ironic. I think it's a message, if you want to be cynical, from Deripaska's side. It raises questions about who ultimately controls Rusal."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) expressed his concern, stating:

"The new chairman is not really a change of management of the kind that would lead me to support lifting these sanction. One of the conditions of lifting sanctions is that there be a change of governance, and this new chairman is hardly a major shift."

Regarding the Treasury's decision to lift sanctions, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), said:

"This certainly adds to the many unanswered questions about Treasury's proposed transactions."

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) added:

"The Administration continues to offer only doubletalk and delay regarding its Christmas gift to the Kremlin, lifting sanctions on Rusal and other companies long controlled by Putin buddy Oleg Deripaska. The more light we shine on this sordid arrangement, the worse it looks. The Administration would lift sanctions, imposed in part because of Russian aggression in Crimea, for a company headed by an occupation cheerleader. Congress should adopt a resolution of disapproval."

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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