U.S. Sanctions Tighten Putin's Circle, Extend Kremlin's Reach

U.S. Sanctions Tighten Putin's Circle, Extend Kremlin's ReachU.S. Sanctions Tighten Putin's Circle, Extend Kremlin's Reach

MOSCOW—When U.S. sanctions forced Western banks to call in more than $200 million in loans from Oleg Deripaska’s automobile manufacturer last year, the Russian tycoon turned to a deep-pocketed backer to bail him out: the Kremlin. Mr. Deripaska’s car maker GAZ took out a raft of loans from Russian state-controlled banks, including VTB Bank and Sberbank, to pay off his Western creditors. Today, he says, the company has no loans with the West—while its debt to the Russian state has swelled to $1.4 billion.
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