Yesterday the U.S. government announced that it would implement new sanctions against Russia mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act of 1991 (the CBW Act) following the apparent deployment of a chemical weapon on British soil by Russia.

The first round of sanctions, which are expected to come into force on or around August 22, will prohibit many exports and reexports of goods, software, or technology to Russia controlled for national security reasons under the dual use Export Administration Regulations.  Such items include gas turbine engines, encryption items, electronics components, optical equipment, lasers, sensors, electronic components, materials, and certain unmanned systems, among many others. National security controlled items currently require a license to be exported to Russia, but the new rules will require the Commerce Department to apply a ‘presumption of denial’ to future license requests in many instances.  In a briefing announcing the new sanctions, the State Department indicated that certain exceptions will be made, including those related to joint space activities, aviation safety, and the activities of U.S. and other foreign companies in Russia.  While the scope of the sanctions has yet to finalized, the State Department suggested that up to half of all licensed exports to Russia are controlled for national security reasons.  If the sanctions are fully enforced, the impact could be substantial – based on 2016 figures over $1 billion in trade could be impacted.
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On Thursday November 9th,  the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) published new regulations in the Federal Register executing June’s National Security Presidential Memorandum (“NSPM”) regarding U.S. sanctions against Cuba.  (See our previous post on the NSPM here).  The State Department and Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) also published complementary rules giving effect to the changes in the Cuba sanctions.  The rules became effective with their publication in the Federal Register.

The primary purpose of the rule changes is to prevent commerce between the U.S. and Cuba from benefiting the Cuban military.  The State Department’s regulation includes a new Cuba Restricted List, which lists parties deemed to be under control of or acting on behalf of the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services personnel. 
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Last Friday the State Department belatedly released a list of 39 Russian entities that operate as part of Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors (the full list is below).  Congress required the Trump Administration to produce a list of such parties as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which became law in August 2017.  Under Section 231 of CAATSA, persons that engage in “significant” transactions with the designated firms could be subject to a menu of secondary sanctions starting on January 29, 2018.   
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Today the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took the unusual step of blacklisting the leader of a foreign country as a Specially Designated National (SDN).  OFAC added Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, to the SDN List after a flawed vote that essentially replaced the country’s democratically elected legislature with a new body

On June 15, 2017, the Senate overwhelmingly – by a vote of 98-2 – approved broad new sanctions against Russia in response to that country’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election and its ongoing aggression in Syria and Ukraine.

The legislation would make several big changes.  First, the package would codify existing sanctions on Russia, which were imposed in the wake of the invasion of Crimea, into law.  Codifying the sanctions would prevent the White House from unilaterally easing or lifting the sanctions, which the administration could do under current law without obtaining approval from Congress.
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