Overview of United States sanctions on Russian persons (individuals, entities, and vessels).
U.S. businesses should be aware that the United States imposes sanctions on Russian persons (individuals, entities, and vessels) in response to conduct including Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, invasion of eastern Ukraine, election interference, malicious cyber activities, human rights abuses, uses of chemical weapons, weapons proliferation, illicit trade with North Korea, and support to Syria and Venezuela. Further sanctions on Russian persons, entities, and ships involved in the Nord Stream 2 projects have been imposed, and additional measures are also under consideration, although the U.S. Government waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, and its chief executive, in May 2021. While U.S. companies and individuals can lawfully engage in a broad range of business activities involving Russia that are not subject to sanction, penalties for violating U.S. sanctions can be severe. Therefore, American companies are advised to familiarize themselves with potentially applicable sanctions and to conduct thorough due diligence to ascertain whether a particular type of business activity or customers, clients, suppliers, or partners may be subject to sanctions.
The Consolidated Screening List can be a helpful tool for due diligence efforts. The Screening List is a web-based platform that consolidates eleven separate export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury into a single list of parties for which the USG maintains sanctions and restrictions on certain exports, reexports, and transfers of items. Companies can search the list by entity name, country, and other criteria to help ascertain whether potential transaction parties might be subject to export restrictions or other sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury maintains a Resource Center with comprehensive information regarding Russia-related sanctions, particularly those pertaining to Ukraine. Additional information resources can be found in the “Export Controls” section of this Country Commercial Guide.
Summary: Sanctions against Russian persons may include blocking of assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction; limits on access to the U.S. financial system, including limiting or prohibiting transactions involving U.S. individuals and businesses; and denial of entry into the United States. The United States also tightly controls exports to Russia’s energy and defense sectors. Following is a summary of current U.S. sanctions applied to Russia. A more complete overview of sanctions, periodically updated, is available from the Congressional Research Service.
Most of the current U.S. sanctions are in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and Russia’s fostering of conflict in eastern Ukraine. The basis for Ukraine-related sanctions is a series of Executive Orders (EOs 13660, 13661, 13662, and 13685) that were issued in 2014 and codified by the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 (CRIEEA; P.L. 115-44, Title II; 22 U.S.C. 9501 et seq.), a part of the broader “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). These Executive Orders provide for sanctions against those that the President determines have undermined Ukraine’s security and stability, misappropriated Ukrainian state assets, or conducted business, trade, or investment in occupied Crimea. They also provide for sanctions against any Russian government officials and those who offer them support, persons who operate in the Russian arms sector, and persons who operate in key sectors of the Russian economy.
Sectoral sanctions apply to specific entities in Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. U.S. persons are restricted from engaging in specific transactions with these entities. Restrictions apply to new equity investment and financing for entities in Russia’s financial sector; and new financing for identified entities in Russia’s energy and defense sectors. Sectoral sanctions also prohibit U.S. trade-related to the development of Russian deep-water, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil and, as amended by CRIEEA, such projects worldwide in which those entities have an ownership interest of at least 33% or a majority of voting interests.
The United States revised CAATSA Section 232 guidance in July 2020, opening up the possibility of sanctions on entities facilitating the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Several Russian entities and ships involved with the construction and pipelaying of Nord Stream 2 have been sanctioned, and the U.S. Congress continues to consider several proposals related to Nord Stream 2 with potential sanctions implications for Russian entities and their partners on the Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream projects.
In addition to Ukraine-related sanctions, the United States maintains certain sanctions in response to malicious cyber activities, under EO 13694, as amended by EO 13757 (and codified by CRIEEA). These measures target Russian individuals and entities that have engaged in cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, for financial or commercial gain, to significantly disrupt the availability of computers or networks, or to interfere with U.S. election processes and institutions. CRIEEA, at Section 224, enlarged the scope of cyber-related activities subject to sanctions to include a range of activities conducted on behalf of the Russian government that undermine “cybersecurity against any person, including a democratic institution, or government.”
The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-208, Title IV; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) requires the President to impose sanctions on persons he identifies (U.S. Sanctions on Russia: An Overview www.crs.gov | 7-5700) as having been involved in either a “criminal conspiracy” uncovered by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky or his subsequent imprisonment and death. The act also requires the President to impose sanctions on those he finds have committed human rights abuses against individuals who are fighting to expose the illegal activity of Russian government officials or seeking internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.
The Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014, as amended (SSIDES; P.L. 113-95; 22 U.S.C. 8901 et seq.), requires sanctions on those responsible for serious human rights abuses in “any territory forcibly occupied or otherwise controlled” by the Russian government. In November 2018, the Administration designated three persons for human rights abuses in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.
Use of a Chemical Weapon: In August 2018, the United States determined that Russia used a chemical weapon in violation of international law in the March 2018 nerve agent attack on a British citizen and his daughter. This finding triggered the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act, P.L. 102-182, Title III; 22 U.S.C. 5601 et seq.). The CBW Act requires the President to terminate most foreign aid, arms sales, export licenses for controlled goods and services, and government-backed financial assistance. The second round of CBW sanctions, announced in August 2019, entails prohibition on U.S. banks’ participation in the primary market for non-ruble denominated bonds issued by Russia and lending to the Russian government/sovereign; U.S. opposition to the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to Russia by international financial institutions; and tightening of restrictions on the export of certain products subject to restrictions administered by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
The United States also determined that Russia used a chemical weapon in an August 2020 attack on Alexei Navalny, again triggering the CBW Act and requiring the President to terminate most foreign aid, arms sales, export licenses for controlled goods and services, and government-backed financial assistance. The second round of CBW sanctions in response to the Navalny poisoning was announced in August 2021, as required by the law.
Weapons Proliferation: Several Russian defense-industry entities, including state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, are denied most U.S. government contracts, export licenses, and trade in U.S. Munitions List-controlled items according to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, as amended (INKSNA, P.L. 106-178; 50 U.S.C. 1701 note). Other Russian entities are subject to sanctions under other legal authorities for providing certain goods or facilitating trade with North Korea or for their support to the Syrian government.