President Obama has extended all US sanctions on Russia that were imposed in response to the Ukraine crisis by 1 year, until March 2018 (see notice here). The sanctions were due to expire had the President not renewed the national emergency first declared in respect of Russia’s actions in Ukraine in March 2014.
The leaders of the G7 countries have consistently stated that sanctions on Russia should continue until Russia complies with its obligations under the Minsk peace agreement (see previous blog). However, over the weekend President Elect Donald Trump raised the prospect of lifting sanctions against Russia sooner, saying that while he would keep sanctions against Russia in place “at least for a period of time…if you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”. In particular, he appeared to tie lifting sanctions to an agreement from Russia to reduce its stockpile of nuclear arms. In November last year, Russia suspended nuclear cooperation between Russia and the US in response to the sanctions (see previous blog).