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U.S. Sanctions Are Driving Russian Billionaires Into Putin’s Arms

Vladimir Putin and Oleg Deripaska in 2008.

Vladimir Putin and Oleg Deripaska in 2008.

Photographer: Ilia Pitalev/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is helping Vladimir Putin achieve a goal that’s eluded him for almost two decades—getting Russia’s billionaires to start repatriating some of their assets.

Relatively muted sanctions imposed during the Obama era over the conflict in Ukraine have only widened in scope and severity since Trump took office last year. The unpredictability of both the White House and Congress is forcing Russians to move money into state-run banks and rejig the offshore superstructure that’s sheltered fortunes here since communism’s collapse.