On February 24 and 25, 2023, the United Kingdom and European Union each adopted additional sanctions against Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These new measures are summarized below.
This post marks the second entry in our Year-in-Review series. For prior posts, click here.
Few sectors have been more affected by the sanctions on Russia than the energy industry. As Russia’s largest industry, it has been a focus of sanctions designed to deter the continuation and escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, with policies targeting the trade in oil and gas, new equity and debt, investment in energy projects, and export to Russia of equipment and parts, as well as designations of specific companies and individuals in the sector.
On February 24, 2022, the United States (U.S.), European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), and other countries issued a barrage of sanctions against the Russian financial sector, cutting off many major banks from the global financial system. These initial measures were coordinated among the US, EU, UK and other G7 countries and largely mirrored one another. As the year progressed, the U.S., EU and UK each imposed new and distinct measures to restrict Russia’s ability to raise capital. Over time, important deviations between jurisdictions began to emerge, creating a vast and multijurisdictional impact on Russia’s financial sector. Russia, in turn, imposed its own measures in an attempt to mitigate that impact. In order for companies to operate in global markets, it became increasingly necessary to understand how to navigate multiple sanctions regimes. Below, we describe several of the key measures levied against the Russian financial sector over the past year.
In response to Russia/Ukraine conflict, and Belarus’ ensuing support for Russia, the United States and global allies have imposed sweeping sanctions and export control restrictions on both Russia and Belarus. These actions are discussed extensively in our prior publications.
The sanctions and export controls restrictions especially target Russia and have had a significant impact on the Russian economy. Virtually every industry is impacted, and Russia’s financial institutions, businesses and prominent individuals are being targeted by ever-widening sanctions and export control restrictions imposed by the United States and global allies. As the situation evolves, further restrictions remain possible.
On February 27, 2022, the U.S., UK and EU announced their agreement that certain Russian banks would be delisted from the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). The EU, which has jurisdiction over SWIFT, implemented sanctions measures that will ban the organization, effective March 12, 2022, from providing financial messaging support anywhere in the world for the following Russian financial institutions and their Russian subsidiaries:
- Bank Otkritie;
- Promsvyazbank (PSB);
- Bank Rossiya;
- Vnesheconombank (VEB); and
- VTB Bank
The SWIFT announcement has raised questions about how this action relates to existing sanctions and general licenses for Russian banks. We explore the differences below.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the global pressure on the Putin regime intensifies with the EU issuing additional sanctions and export controls on Friday evening (February 25). The legislation implementing the UK’s latest announced sanctions is expected early this week. Both the EU and the UK have added further persons to their respective asset freeze lists, and both have now designated Mr. Putin and his Foreign Minister, Mr. Lavrov.
On February 24, 2022, the U.S. Government issued a number of sanctions measures in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. These measures include sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls, which will have broad impacts on companies and individuals doing business in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Today’s announcement came alongside additional measures coordinated with U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom, European Union, Canada and Japan.
A brief overview of today’s U.S. measures is provided below. In following blogs, we will provide more focused looks at (a) U.S. sanctions; and (b) sanctions and export controls issued by a number of other key economies around the world.
On February 22 and 23, 2022, President Biden announced further sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions build upon the U.S. sanctions issued on February 21, 2022. Specifically, the additional sanctions include (a) blocking two Russian financial institutions and their subsidiaries, as well as five Russian individuals associated with the Putin regime; (b) expanded sanctions targeting Russian sovereign debt and persons who support such transactions; and (c) sanctions on Nord Stream AG and its CEO.
The United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, and Japan have also issued or announced sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion. Further sanctions are likely if the situation in Ukraine continues to escalate.
In response to President Putin’s televised recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (“DNR” and “LNR”) of Ukraine as “independent” nations, and reports of Russian troops being ordered into Ukrainian territory, the United States has imposed Crimea-style comprehensive sanctions on the DNR and LNR prohibiting new U.S. investment as well as imports and exports to and from the regions. The EU and the UK have sanctioned banks and oligarchs, and Germany has suspended certifications on the NordStream2 pipeline project.
On July 23, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 (NDAA) which includes an amendment that expands sanctions in connection with the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipeline projects. The amendment is based on a bill previously introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) entitled, the “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act of 2020”, which sought to clarify and expand existing U.S. sanctions under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019.
Last year, the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019, enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020, implemented sanctions targeted at Allseas, the Swiss-Dutch company that had been laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Shortly after the NDAA was enacted in December 2019, the company suspended its activities, leaving six percent or around 100 miles (160 km) of pipeline to be completed. Reports indicate that Russia has taken steps to continue construction of the pipeline, prompting Members of Congress to take further action. The House passed its version of the FY 2021 NDAA with a similar amendment introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) on July 21.