Senate Republicans block attempt to keep sanctions on Russian oligarch's firms
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Shutterstock)

Legislation seeking to keep sanctions in place on companies tied to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including the giant aluminum firm Rusal (0486.HK), stalled in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, a victory for the Trump administration.

The vote was 57-42 to end debate on the measure, as 11 of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats to support the measure as he faces questions about his relationship with Moscow.

But that result still fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 seat majority.

The result left its fate uncertain even though similar legislation has been introduced in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

Many members of Congress have been questioning the Treasury Department’s mid-December decision to ease sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska - Rusal, its parent, En+, and power firm EuroSibEnergo - watering down the toughest penalties imposed on Russian entities since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Deripaska himself would remain subject to U.S. sanctions.

But the Trump administration has been pushing Republican lawmakers hard not to support the resolution of disapproval of the decision to ease the sanctions, which were introduced by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Senate aides said Treasury staff had approached senators and staff repeatedly to argue that it was appropriate to lift the sanctions imposed in April because Deripaska had agreed to cut back his controlling stakes.

European countries had also lobbied for the sanctions to be eased.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown and Susan Thomas)