The EU has extended for 1 year its sanctions in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia until 23 June 2019, see Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/880. These sanctions (which apply to EU persons and EU based companies) are limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, and include:
(1) An import ban into the EU on goods from Crimea and Sevastopol;
(2) Restrictions on EU trade and investment related to certain economic sectors and infrastructure projects in Crimea and Sevastopol;
(3) A prohibition to supply tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol; and
(4) An export ban for certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors and related to the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources. Technical assistance, brokering, construction or engineering services related to infrastructure in these sectors must not be provided either. EU press release here, and UK Export Control Joint Unit Notice here.
The US Department of Justice has announced that 8 businessmen – 5 Russian nationals and 3 Syrian nationals – have been indicted on federal charges for conspiracy to violate US sanctions against Syria and Crimea/Ukraine; namely, by sending jet fuel to Syria and making US dollar wires to Syria and to sanctioned entities (in the absence of a US licence).
The indictment involves transactions conducted by Joint Stock Company Sovfracht (Sovfracht), a Russian shipping company and freight forwarder, which was designated by OFAC in September 2016 for Crimean sanctions violations. The 5 Russian nationals – Ivan Okorokov, Ilya Loginov, Karen Stepanyan, Alexey Konkov and Liudmila Shmelkova – are employees of Sovfracht. Yaser Naser is a Syrian national who worked on behalf of Sovfracht in Syria to coordinate its business there. Farid Bitar and Gabriel Bitar are petroleum inspectors at Port Banias, Syria.
On 14 May 2018, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/706, which added 5 people to its targeted sanctions on those said to be responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine, namely, for being involved in the “organisation of the Russian presidential elections of 18 March 2018 in the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol” (previous blog). The EU announced yesterday that Montenegro, Albania, Norway and Ukraine have aligned themselves with that Decision. EU press release here.
On 28 May 2018, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/778, which extended its Syria sanctions until 1 June 2019 (previous blog). The EU announced yesterday that Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with that Decision. EU press release here.
OFAC has designated 5 Russian entities and 3 Russian individuals, pursuant to Executive Order 13694 and/or Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Kvant Scientific Research Institute, Digital Security and Divetechnoservices were designated for being controlled by and/or having provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which was previously sanctioned under CAATSA (in March 2018) and Executive Order 13694 (in December 2016). ERPScan and Embedi and the 3 individuals, Alexsandr Lvovich Tribun, Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy, were designated for being owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the 3 entities that had enabled the FSB. See OFAC Notice and Treasury press release.
On 8 – 9 June 2018, the G7 held a summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, to discuss a range of issues including Russia. Among other things, the communique urges Russia to “cease its destabilizing behaviour to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime”. Furthermore, that the G7 “stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia” should it be required.
President Putin has now signed Russian counter-measures into law. These measures, as previously reported, provide for counter-sanctions including restrictions on the import into Russia of products and/or raw materials originating from the USA and other foreign states, and on the export from Russia of products to foreign citizens. The legislation gives President Putin the power to choose the sectors and products that will be affected, and to “ban or suspend co-operation with a hostile state”.
A second Bill that would make it a crime for anyone to comply with foreign sanctions against Russia has been delayed for business impact consultations.
Yesterday, OFAC issued Ukraine/Russia-related General Licence 16, which authorises until 23 October 2018 US persons to engage in specified transactions related to winding down or maintaining business involving EN+ Group, JSC EuroSibEnergo, or any entity in which EN+ Group or JSC EuroSibEnergo owns (directly or indirectly) a 50% or greater interest. OFAC Notice here.
EN+ Group plc (an entity sanctioned by the US on 6 April 2018) is said to be using investment bank Rothschild to advise on the sale of Oleg Deripaska’s controlling stake in the company (66%), in response to US sanctions. EN+ Group has also announced that Maxim Sokov has resigned as President and Executive Director of the company (effective 1 June), pursuant to the group’s “Barker Plan”.
Last week, OFAC extended by 2 months (until 5 August 2018) its deadline relating to the authorisation of certain transactions necessary to divest or transfer debt, equity, or other holdings in EN+ Group (previous blog).