U.S. Treasury Announces Limited Modification to Russian Sanctions

By Laurie Kotka

Today, the United States Treasury Department announced limited exceptions to Russian sanctions imposed by former President Obama during the final weeks of his administration. The adjustment is intended to enable U.S. companies to import Information Technology products to Russia.

President Trump affirmed this change does not reflect a departure from larger policy discussions as it relates to Russia.

Those discussions surround Obama’s sanctions against two Russian intelligence agencies in response to U.S. intelligence-substantiated claims that the Russians interfered with the U.S. 2016 presidential election. FSB, one of the two Russian agencies included in the sanctions is part of today’s Treasury Department announcement.

Less than two weeks into Trump’s presidency and following a flurry of executive orders, nationwide protests, the nomination of Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch, and strained conversations with long-time U.S. allies, many look to Trump’s next actions for a clearer forecast of the Trump administration.

Experts have affirmed the Treasury Department move is not indicative of weakened U.S. sanctions against Russia. This particular amendment was likely initiated by the Obama administration immediately following the initial sanctions, designed to alleviate an unintended consequence.

Russia’s FSB regulates the import of all technology containing encryption software which includes cell phones and printers. Today’s announcement allows such sales and transactions to continue.

As of today, the remainder of the December sanctions will remain in place.

 

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