Articles Tagged with russia sanctions

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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;
  • Novikombank;
  • Promsvyazbank (PSB);
  • Bank Rossiya;
  • Sovcombank;
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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On December 31, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas overturned a $2 million fine imposed by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) against ExxonMobil Corp., and its U.S. subsidiaries ExxonMobil Development Company and ExxonMobil Oil Corp. (collectively, “Exxon”). This marked a rare court decision overturning an OFAC sanctions penalty. The Court’s decision focused not on the subject of the sanctions but addressed whether OFAC had provided proper notice of its sanctions requirements.

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On June 15, 2017, the Senate passed the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S.722) by a vote of 98-2.  Included with the bill is a significant Russia sanctions amendment, the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017, which would expand U.S. primary and secondary sanctions for Russia and limit the President’s ability to ease existing sanctions.

The bill represents a bi-partisan compromise among key legislators to advance Iran and Russia sanctions measures together. The House of Representatives is now beginning to consider its own Iran and Russia sanctions measure, with the potential for final legislation this fall. Continue reading →