Earlier this week, Treasury undersecretary Adam Szubin told a BBC program that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “the picture of corruption.” Questions about whether Szubin went off-script or was reflecting official US allegations were resolved today, when the White House affirmed that Szubin’s comments amount to an official “administration view.”
Russian officials blasted Szubin’s comments and demanded the US present evidence for what they were claiming, calling it a “formal accusation.” Today’s comments from the White House will only underscore the formality of it.
Yet the White House comments were every bit as light on evidence as Szubin’s were, simply directing media questions to the Treasury Department on the grounds that they’re the ones who decide who gets sanctioned.
Russia has warned the latest claims could further harm bi-lateral relations, already at a near-term low over disputes about the Syrian Civil War and Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian Civil War. Even though it’s totally unrelated to charges of corruption, the White House brought up Ukraine in their comments.