Australia renews Russia sanctions

Australia has renewed its sanctions against people and entities said to be threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine for 3 years, or until Russia fulfils its obligations set out in the Minsk Peace Agreements. There are 153 people and 48 entities targeted by these measures.

EU extends and updates Russia/Ukraine sanctions

The EU has extended its sanctions on people and entities that are said to be undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine for 6 months until 15 March 2018.  It has also added Crimean Sea Ports to its list of designated people and entities, amended the sanctions to include a derogation for payments to Crimean Sea Ports for certain services, and updated the listing information for several people subject to the sanctions. In addition, it has deleted the entries for 4 deceased people, and deleted the entries for 3 entities to reflect a change in ownership structure.

See Council Regulation 2017/1547 amending Council Regulation 269/2014, Council Implementing Regulation 2017/1549 implementing Council Regulation 269/2014, and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1561 amending Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP. The EU’s notice to listed persons is here, and the UK government’s notice is here.

Russia appoints sanctioned person as US ambassador

Russia has appointed Anatoly Antonov, who is subject to EU and Canadian sanctions for his role in supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as its ambassador to the US.  Antonov was Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and became the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister in December last year. When he assumes office on 1 September, he will replace Sergei Kislyak – a key figure in claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

Russian court rejects Siemens’ application to seize gas turbines shipped to Crimea

A Russian Court has dismissed an application brought by Siemens for an injunction to seize gas turbines it produced with Russian firm Technopromexport, shipped to Crimea by the Russian firm in alleged contravention of EU sanctions (see previous blog). EU people and entities are prohibited from providing certain technology to Crimea for use in its energy sector.

The turbines are crucial for providing electricity to the Crimea region, which was promised a stable power supply by the Russian government but has endured frequent blackouts. Siemens says that there was a written agreement with its Russian partner not to export the turbines to Crimea. Preliminary hearings in Siemens’ case against Technopromexport are due to begin next month.

EU sanctions those involved in the illegal export of turbines to Crimea

Last month, we reported that Germany-based firm Siemens had brought proceedings against Russian firm Technopromexport for exporting Siemens-built power turbines to Crimea in apparent violation of EU sanctions (see previous blog).  The EU has now sanctioned Technopromexport for exporting the turbines to Crimea, along with 2 other entities and 3 people connected with the export.

See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1417 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 269/2014 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1418 amending Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP. The EU’s notice is here, and the UK’s notice is here.

President Trump signs new sanctions on Russia, Iran, DPRK into law

President Trump today signed a bill passed by Congress last week, which imposes new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea (see previous blog). The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act restricts the President’s ability to lift sanctions without Congressional approval.  President Trump’s statement on signing the Act makes the following remarks:

“…the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate…  By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.  The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.  This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.  It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.  We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary… I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.  That is a big part of the reason I was elected.  As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

In response to the bill passing through Congress, Russia ordered the expulsion of 755 US diplomatic staff from the country.

Russia retaliates as US Congress passes new sanctions bill

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea (see previous blog).  That bill has now also passed the US Senate, and will go before President Trump for his signature.

In response, Russia has instructed the US to reduce the number of its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455 at any given time, and has seized holiday properties and a warehouse used by US personnel.  It is reported that there are currently over 1000 staff working at the US embassy in Moscow and its 3 Russian consulates.