Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in retaliation latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald J. Trump as his own.
Among 500 people are singled out for travel and financial restrictions on Friday, Americans were seen as opposed to Trump, including Letitia James, the New York state attorney who has sued him for alleged fraudand Jack Smith, special counsel for the Department of Justice examines his efforts to subvert the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents after he left office.
Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state who rejected Trump’s push to “find” enough votes to overturn the election, also made the list. So did Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol police officer who shot pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021.
None of them have anything to do with Russia’s politics, and the only obvious reason they would have come to Moscow’s attention is that Trump has attacked them publicly. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not offer a specific explanation for why they would be included on the list but said that among its targets were “those in government and law enforcement directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called storming of the Capitol.”
As recently as this month, Trump has tried to rewrite the history of that day and has done so dangled pardons for convicted rioters if he is elected to a second term. He also refused to commit to supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia if re-elected president, saying instead that he would try to mediate between Kiev and Moscow.
Presumably, the Russian sanctions will have little actual effect on Ms. James, Mr. Smith, Mr. Raffensperger or Lt. Byrd, as neither is known to have assets in Russia or plans to travel there. Raffensperger retweeted a tweet from Gabriel Sterling, his chief operating officer, who wrote: “A great honor for @GaSecofState Raffensperger. He is one of hundreds of Americans banned from Russia by Vladimir Putin. That means Brad is doing it right.”