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Washington – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) is urging Republican senators to support the Trump administration’s decision to ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Mnuchin met privately with senators Tuesday before a vote on a resolution from Democrats. That measure would prevent the administration from lifting penalties against the aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal and two other companies connected to Deripaska.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mnuchin said, “We have been tougher on Russia with more sanctions than any other administration.” He said the sanctions “shouldn’t be a political issue.”

The Treasury Department says the Russian companies have committed to separating from Deripaska. It also warns the sanctions could upset global aluminum markets.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer protested what he called “sanctions relief for President Putin’s trusted agents.”

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