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.

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.

US continues Zimbabwe sanctions for 1 year

Zimbabwe.jpgThe US has decided to continue for 1 year its sanctions with respect to Zimbabwe by extending the national emergency as declared in Executive Order (EO) 13288. As a result, the individuals listed under EO 13288 (as amended by EO 13391 and EO 13469) will continue to be subject to asset freezes beyond 6 March 2018 for a further year. Publication in the US Federal Register here.

UN & US sanction 2 people for Al-Shabaab links

UN HQ.jpgThe UN Security Council has added 2 individuals, Ahmad Iman Ali and Abdifatah Abubakar Abdi, to its Somalia and Eritrea sanctions list – UN press release here and UK OFSI Notice here. The US Department of State has designated those same individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 – OFAC Notice here and Department of State press release here.

Mr Ali is said to be a “prominent Kenyan Al-Shabaab commander who has served as the group’s leader in Kenya since 2012” – UN summary of reasons for listing here. Mr Abdi was placed on the “Kenyan government’s wanted list of terrorists known or suspected to be members of Al-Shabaab”, and is “wanted in connection with the June 2014 attack in Mpeketoni, Kenya that claimed numerous lives” – UN summary of reasons for listing here.

US sanctions DPRK over use of chemical agent

US Flag3.jpgPursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, the US has imposed a number of sanctions against North Korea on the basis that its Government had used the “chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong Nam” (half-brother of Kim Jong-un), in Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (February 2017). The sanctions imposed:

(i) Foreign Assistance: Termination of assistance to North Korea under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, except for urgent humanitarian assistance and food, or other agricultural commodities or products;

(ii) Arms Sales: Termination of (a) sales to North Korea under the Arms Export Control Act of any defence articles, defence services, or design and construction services, and (b) licenses for the export to North Korea of any item on the US Munitions List;

(iii) Arms Sales Financing: Termination of all foreign military financing for North Korea under the Arms Export Control Act;

(iv) Denial of US Government Credit or Other Financial Assistance: Denial to North Korea of any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency, or instrumentality of the US Government, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States; and

(v) Exports of National Security-Sensitive Goods and Technology: Prohibition on the export to North Korea of any goods or technology on that part of the control list established under section 2404(c)(1) of the Appendix to Title 50.

Links to the Department of State press release and the publication in the Federal Register.

OFAC sanctions ‘Mexican heroin traffickers’

OFAC2Pursuant to the US Kingpin Act, OFAC has sanctioned 8 Mexican individuals and 8 Mexican entities in order to target “heroin traffickers” linked with the “leadership of the Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization” (asset freezes imposed).

Ruelas Torres was identified by OFAC in May 2017 as a “Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker”; specifically, for being “involved in the manufacture and distribution of heroin from Sinaloa, Mexico to the United States”. Links to OFAC Notice and Treasury press release.

EU & US extend Russia-Ukraine sanctions by 1 year

Ukraine-Russia.jpgToday, the EU extended until 6 March 2019 the asset freezes against 13 individuals “responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds or for the abuse of office causing a loss to Ukrainian public funds”. Two people were also removed from the list: Olena Leonidivna Lukash and Serhii Petrovych Kliuiev. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/333 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/326. EU press release here, and UK OFSI Notice here.

Last week, the US decided to extend its Russia-Ukraine sanctions for another year, namely, the measures adopted under Executive Orders 13660, 13661, 13662 and 13685. White House press release here.

New US Bill expanding sanctions on IRGC

US HoR.jpgYesterday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Economic Exclusion Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives. Among other things, the Bill amends the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, to authorise the President to sanction entities in which the IRGC has an ownership interest of less than 50% (OFAC sanctioned the IRGC in October 2017, see previous blog here). The Bill also sets out the US policy to prevent Iran’s membership into the WTO and similar international bodies until the Secretary of State no longer deems the Government of Iran to be a supporter for “acts of terrorism”.

The Bill has now been referred to 5 Committees: Foreign Affairs; Financial Services; Oversight and Government Reform; Judiciary; and Ways and Means.