By Evan Stewart
Sanctions imposed on Russia back in April 2015 and December 2015 by then-President Obama have been altered by the U.S. Treasury Department, permitting “certain transactions” to be conducted between U.S. companies and Russia’s Federal Security Service, FSB, regarding cyber-security sales. This amendment to the sanctions allow dealings and negotiations related to IT exports as long as these actions do not violate any other restrictions and stay within set annual monetary limits.
These changes were received favorably by several Russian officials, who viewed it as a move to improve relations with the United States. Former FSB director Nikolai Kovalyov stated, “This shows that actual joint work on establishing an anti-terrorism coalition is about to begin. Without easing these sanctions, it would have been impossible to take the next step,” according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
However, several Congress members oppose the action, describing it as a move to accommodate Russia. Some members of Congress believe that harsher sanctions should be imposed on Moscow and others have accused the Trump administration of “rewarding” the FSB for interfering with U.S. elections, as reported in USA Today.
The claims that sanctions on Russia have been eased were denied by the Trump administration, who stated that it is routine practice for the Treasury to tweak sanctions when dealing with complicated policies. This is commonly done to ease the effects felt by third parties in the private sector impacted by the initial sanctions.