Trump Aide Talks Investment With Sanctioned Kremlin FundBy and
Scaramucci, Dmitriev discussed investment with U.S. companies
RDIF preparing visit to Russia by U.S. business delegation
Anthony Scaramucci, aide to President-elect Donald Trump and founder of SkyBridge Capital, discussed possible joint investments in a meeting in Davos with the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund that the U.S. sanctioned in 2015, the fund’s press service said.
The meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a $10 billion state-run investment vehicle, is the first public contact between the incoming administration and Kremlin-backed business. Trump has suggested he could ease the sanctions on Russia if the Kremlin cooperates on his policy priorities. Scaramucci confirmed the Davos meeting.
In an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS Tuesday, he also criticized the sanctions as ineffective. Trump’s view about Russia is that “there’s probably shared values or shared interests, that we can align ourselves with each other and this could be mutually beneficial,” he said.
The two sides didn’t disclose details of the meeting, which Scaramucci said took place Monday evening.
Dmitriev’s fund said it’s organizing a visit by a delegation of top U.S. corporate executives to Russia and plans to open a representative office in New York in May. In an interview last week, Dmitriev said the visit would be aimed at highlighting the benefits of closer economic ties and could take place as early as this spring. The current U.S. administration has discouraged American business from working with the Kremlin in the wake of the sanctions it imposed after the Russian intervention in Ukraine starting in 2014.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television Tuesday, Scaramucci said he’s long known Dmitriev and worked with him to set up the business delegation as a private citizen. “The idea was, many months ago, to have more outreach with Russia,” he said, noting that he will have to determine whether he can continue from within the administration, given ethics rules.
Speaking on a panel in Davos, Scaramucci said Trump has tremendous respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has repeatedly called for reviving ties with Russia in order to cooperate in the fight against global terrorism, putting less focus on differences over the civil war in Syria, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and allegations of Kremlin meddling in the U.S. election. Putin has welcomed the new approach but so far limited public contacts with the incoming administration, saying that the Kremlin will wait for it to take office first.
In his TASS interview, Scaramucci said that sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis have not succeeded. “I think the sanctions had in some ways an opposite effect because of Russian culture,” he said. “I think the Russians would eat snow if they had to. And so for me the sanctions probably galvanized the nation with the nation’s president.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov welcomed his comments but said, “Russians prefer to eat not snow, but very tasty delicacies made in Russia, of which we have more and more thanks to sanctions.”