Russia imposes retaliatory measures for UK & US sanctions

shutterstock_428679478.jpgWe previously reported that the UK had laid out a number of measures it would be taking against the Russian Federation, including a decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats, in response to the recent nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal (previous blog here). Furthermore, that the US had designated 19 individuals and 5 entities for Russia’s “interference with the 2016 US elections” and its role in conducting “malicious cyberattacks” (previous blog here).

In response, Russia has announced that 23 diplomats from the UK Embassy in Moscow have been declared ‘persona non grata’ and will be expelled from the country within a week. Furthermore, that both the British Council and the Consulate General of the United Kingdom in St Petersburg will be closed. In respect of the US, Russia has stated that it will be expanding its sanctions ‘blacklist’ against a number of US individuals – see here.

First judgment on EU North Korea sanctions

CJEU1The EU General Court has given judgment in the first case about the EU’s North Korea DPRK sanctions regime. Judgment here (Maya Lester QC appeared for the applicants).

The Korea National Insurance Company was subject to an EU asset freeze for (in summary) “generating substantial foreign exchange revenue which could be used to contribute” to the DPRK’s nuclear / ballistic programme. The Court found, in essence, that as a state-owned insurance company that generated a profit (even if it did not generate substantial foreign exchange revenue) the listing criterion was fulfilled. The Court also rejected claims brought by individuals who had held positions in the company, on the basis that their witness evidence explaining (inter alia) their retirement / absence of ongoing links with the company had no probative value because it was prepared for the purposes of the EU case.

EU sanctions 4 people linked to chemical weapons in Syria

EU2The EU has added 4 people to its Syria sanctions list for “their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population”. The individuals include a high-ranking military official and 3 scientists working at the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the government entity responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons, including chemical weapons, and the missiles to deliver them (the SSRC has been under EU sanctions since 1 December 2011). The legal acts adopted by the Council, including the names of the persons concerned, will be published in the Official Journal on 19 March 2018. EU press release here.

US sanctions Russia for ‘interference with 2016 US elections and malicious cyberattacks’

US Treasury Building.jpgToday, OFAC designated 5 entities and 19 individuals to counter “Russia’s continuing destabilizing activities, ranging from interference in the 2016 U.S. election to conducting destructive cyber-attacks, including the NotPetya attack” (a cyber-attack that was attributed to the Russian military on 15 February 2018). Links to the OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.

3 entities and 13 individuals were designated pursuant to Executive Order 13694, as amended, which targets cyber actors, including those involved in interfering with election processes or institutions (asset freezes imposed).

The remaining 2 entities and 6 individuals were designated pursuant to section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets cyber actors operating on behalf of the Russian government (asset freezes imposed).

In addition, OFAC has amended Cyber General License No. 1, and reissued it as Cyber General License No. 1A (the changes are limited to adding CAATSA authorities). Furthermore, 4 FAQs relating to the new licence, and 1 CAATSA-related FAQ in respect of the present action, have been updated.

11th ACI Conference on Economic Sanctions Enforcement & Compliance

The American Conference Institute is holding its 11th Conference on Economic Sanctions Enforcement & Compliance on April 25-26, 2018 at the Westin DC City Center in Washington, DC.  It includes:

  • Keynote address from OFAC Director John Smith.
  • Sessions on Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
  • Audience polling sessions to test knowledge and hear from regulators including OFAC, DOJ, BIS, and HM Treasury.
  • International experts to discuss the latest trends and compliance challenges facing companies in a variety of industries including banking, technology, oil/gas, retail, automotive and insurance.

A 10% discount is available to EU Sanctions readers with the code D10-999-EUSB18 and group discounts are available for 3 or more people. Go to for more details or to register online.

Third countries align with EU’s ISIL and Al-Qaeda sanctions

EU4The EU has announced that Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia have aligned themselves with Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/283. That decision added 1 person (French national, ‘Fabien Clain’) to the EU sanctions list in respect of ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda (previous blog here).

UK outlines Russia sanctions following nerve agent attack

Theresa May2.jpgBritish Prime Minister Theresa May made a statement in the House of Commons on the UK government’s response to the recent nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal (see previous blog here).

She said Russia had “provided no credible explanation” of the incident and that there was “no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State [had been] culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter… This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom… It must therefore be met with a full and robust response beyond the actions we have already taken since the murder of Mr Litvinenko and to counter this pattern of Russian aggression elsewhere.” As a result, the Prime Minister announced the following measures (inter alia):

1.      Under the Vienna Convention, the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as “undeclared intelligence officers” (one week to leave the country) (the White House has issued a statement supporting this action as a “just response”);

2.      New legislative powers will be developed to “harden [the UK’s] defences against all forms of hostile state activity”, including the addition of a targeted power to detain those suspected of hostile state activity at the UK border (a power which is currently only permitted in relation to those suspected of terrorism);

3.      The UK Government will table an amendment to the UK Sanctions Bill, “to strengthen our powers to impose sanctions in response to the violation of human rights” (see previous blogs on Magnitsky amendments to the Bill);

4.      Increased checks on private flights, customs and freight coming from Russia;

5.      Russian-state assets will be frozen wherever there is evidence that “they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents” (this appears to be a reference to the power of HM Treasury to impose freezing orders pursuant to section 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001);

6.      UK efforts to seek a “robust international response” before the UN Security Council – see here for the Council’s discussion on the issue (no reference was made to seeking increased EU sanctions against Russia); and

7.     UK suspension of high-level diplomatic contact with Russia.