Last week (2 August), the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018 was introduced to the US Senate. The Bill aims to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to “Russia’s continued interference in [US] elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression in Crimea, and other activities”. Its key elements include:
- New sanctions on political figures, oligarchs, family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities on behalf of Vladimir Putin.
- A sanction on transactions related to investment in energy projects supported by Russian state-owned or parastatal entities.
- A prohibition on and sanctions with respect to transactions relating to new sovereign debt of the Russian Federation.
- Sectoral sanctions on any person in the Russian Federation that has the capacity or ability to support or facilitate malicious cyber activities.
- A requirement for the US Secretary of State to submit a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
- A prohibition on licenses for US persons to engage in activities relating to certain projects to produce oil in Russia.
- Reinforcement for the State Department Office of Sanctions Coordination.
- A report on the net worth and assets of Vladimir Putin.
- Making interfering in US elections a ground of inadmissibility under immigration law.
- Provisions expediting the transfer of excess defence articles to NATO countries to reduce some NATO countries’ dependence on Russian military equipment.
- Provisions aimed at pressuring the Russian government to halt its obstruction of international efforts to investigate chemical weapons attacks, as well as punish the Russian government for chemical weapons production and use.
It is not certain if the legislation will pass the Senate and the House of Representatives in its current form. However, the Senate has passed similar measures against Russia with overwhelming support.