Pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the CBW Act), the United States has decided to impose a second round of sanctions on the Russian Federation over its use of a “novichok” nerve agent in the attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom on March 4, 2018. These sanctions will include the following:
- The United States will oppose the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to Russia by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund.
- U.S. banks will be prohibited from participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign and lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign.
- Licenses for exports to Russia of dual-use chemical and biological items controlled by the Department of Commerce will be subject to a “presumption of denial” policy.
These sanctions will restrict Russia’s access to the multilateral development bank system, the U.S. market for primary issuances of non-ruble denominated Russian sovereign debt, non-ruble denominated debt financing, and U.S.-origin items that are strategically important to Russia’s chemical and biological weapons program. These measures could curtail Russia’s access to billions of dollars of bilateral commercial activity with the United States.
Duration and Conditions for Removal
The sanctions will take effect following the publication of a Federal Register notice expected on or around August 19, 2019, and they will remain in place for a minimum of 12 months. The sanctions can only be lifted after this 12-month period if the Executive Branch determines and certifies to the Congress that Russia has met several conditions described in the CBW Act [22 U.S.C. 5605(c)], including providing reliable assurances that (1) it is not making preparations to use chemical weapons; (2) it has provided assurances it will not use chemical weapons in the future; (3) it has allowed international inspectors to verify those assurances; and (4) it has paid restitution to the victims of the Salisbury attack.
The United States government has determined that it is essential to U.S. national security interests to partially waive the restrictions on bank loans and exports.
BANK LOANS: The restriction on bank loans will be waived in all respects except that the authority of the Executive Order of August 1, 2019, shall be used by the Department of the Treasury to prohibit U.S. banks from: (1) participating in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by the Russian sovereign after the date that sanctions take effect; and (2) lending non-ruble denominated funds to the Russian sovereign after the date the sanctions take effect.
EXPORT RESTRICTIONS: The additional export restrictions will only apply to items controlled by the Department of Commerce for chemical and biological weapons (CB) proliferation reasons. Licenses of exports of CB items to state-owned or state-funded entities in Russia will be subject to a “presumption of denial” policy.
Similar to the restrictions implemented in the first round of sanctions, exceptions to Department of Commerce export licensing requirements will continue to be available for U.S. firms fulfilling existing contracts with Russian customers. The following licenses will also continue to be considered for approval on a case-by-case basis:
- Exports needed for space flight activities, including those involving government space cooperation and commercial space launch;
- Exports needed to ensure the safe operation of commercial passenger aviation;
- Exports to commercial end-users in Russia for civil end-uses;
- Exports to wholly-owned subsidiaries of U.S. and other foreign companies in Russia; and
- Deemed export licenses for Russian nationals working in the United States.
For additional information on the financial and export restrictions, please visit the websites of the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).