Obama Expands Sanctions Against Russia

In a brief speech from the White House South Lawn, President Obama announced yesterday that the sanctions mandated in his March 17 executive order against Russian government officials had been expanded by a Treasury Department notice, to twenty additional individuals in or close to the Russian leadership, plus a Russian bank. He also announced he had signed a new executive order regarding Ukraine and Russia, expanding the scope of those issued March 6 (EO 13660) and March 17 (EO 13661).

In his speech, Obama asserted that these new actions were motivated by continuing concern about events in Ukraine: “We’ve seen an illegal referendum in Crimea; an illegitimate move by the Russians to annex Crimea; and dangerous risks of escalation, including threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well. These are all choices that the Russian government has made — choices that have been rejected by the international community, as well as the government of Ukraine. And because of these choices, the United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia. Now, we’re taking these steps as part of our response to what Russia has already done in Crimea. At the same time, the world is watching with grave concern as Russia has positioned its military in a way that could lead to further incursions into southern and eastern Ukraine. For this reason, we’ve been working closely with our European partners to develop more severe actions that could be taken if Russia continues to escalate the situation.”

In its notice yesterday, the Treasury Department cited EO 13661, which “authorizes sanctions on, among others, officials of the Russian Government and any individual or entity that is owned or controlled by, that has acted for or on behalf of, or that has provided material or other support to, a senior Russian government official.” It announced sanctions against, “as Russian government officials”: Viktor Ozerov, Vladimir Dzhabarov, Evgeni Bushmin, Nikolai Ryzhkov, Sergei Zheleznyak, Sergei Mironov, Aleksandr Totoonov, Oleg Panteleev, Sergey Naryshkin, Victor Ivanov, Igor Sergun, Sergei Ivanov, Alexei Gromov, Andrei Fursenko, Vladimir Yakunin, and Vladimir Kozhin. Further, individuals “designated for acting for or on behalf of or materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation” are: Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg, Boris Rotenberg, Yuri Kovalchuk and Bank Rossiya. In addition to being designated for providing material support to Russian government officials, Bank Rossiya is also being designated for being controlled by designated inner circle member Kovalchuk.” The notice continues with brief paragraphs setting out the role of each of the new designees in or with the Russian Government; these U.S. Government characterizations can be reviewed by our readers in the text of the notice, .

The new executive order recites a finding that it is necessitated because “the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation, including its purported annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, continue to undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, and thereby constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” As with the previous EOs, the new Order blocks any transfer of property currently in the possession of any U.S. person (including U.S. companies and their foreign branches), which is owned by newly-specified categories of persons determined by the Secretaries of Treasury and State.

Yesterday’s Order targets persons so-found “to operate in such sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel,” along with persons who have materially assisted (etc.) any person whose property is blocked in the Order, and entities owned by or acting on behalf of persons blocked in the Order. The EO does not elaborate what kind of persons or sectors of the Russian economy are targetted.

In addition, the new Order includes sanctions, as did the previous ones, against entry of the targetted persons into the United States, and against U.S. citizens providing donations to designated persons, of articles listed in a subsection of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, articles “such as food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering.” Obama asserts in the EO that the latter charitable donations “would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13660, and expanded in Executive Order 13661 and this order.”

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