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Russian-Backed Aluminum Plant in Kentucky Casts Fears of National Security Risks

The Primary: A Kentucky-based aluminum factory’s investment from a Russian aluminum giant, Rusal, cast questions of potential security risk and Russian influence on U.S. politics.

Who? What? Why?: The Russian aluminum company is owned by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who not only has been accused of facilitating Moscow’s election meddling, but is currently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for his efforts involving the 2016 presidential election. While some lawmakers have expressed fear in the company’s involvement in Kentucky, the plant has not broken any laws in brokering its deal with the Rusal and its owner claims to have no interest in the U.S.’s political affairs.

The Baseline: Two former Mitch McConnell staffers lobbied Congress and the Treasury in order to free the plant from potential sanctions, according to a Politico report. Additionally, the two have begun a public relations push to ease fears of Rusal’s involvement in the plant. Mitch McConnell has recently come under fire for avoiding the passage of election security measures, but argues that decision has nothing to do with his home state.

From the Left: A group of Democratic Senators write in a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin that Rusal is a subsidiary of En+, a Russian bank that is nicknamed “Putin’s piggy bank.” They argue a Russian interest in U.S. economy is in fact an interest in U.S. politics, as it means a more subtle way of entering the political landscape and influencing policy and elections.

From the Right: Rich Lowry of the National Review argues that the recent labeling of Mitch McConnell as a “Russian asset” is nothing more than a political smear job, pointing to McConnell’s support of a bill allotting $380 million to bettering election security.

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