Latest U.S. sanctions on Russia

WHAT IT IS

  • July, 2017: Congress approved new sanctions on Russia by passing the Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017. This expanded prior sanctions imposed by President Obama.
  • The sanctions target Russia’s energy, defense and intelligence sectors by making it more difficult for the country to export weapons and resources.
  • The law states that, if the President wants to engage with Russia on any action related to the sanction, the President must report in detail to a congressional committee the nature of the action and a certification that Russia has ceased undermining the Ukraine and all cyber attacks on U.S. entities.

WHY IT MATTERS

This bill is significant for two reasons. First, it is a public declaration by both chambers of Congress to punish Russia for their interference with the democratic process in this country as well as Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Second, it impacts relations between Russia and the United States significantly. The bill also actively punishes any companies who are involved with Russia.

  • FOR THE BILL – “Russia needs to be punished…”

    • Cyber attacks:   According to the CIA and FBI, Russia interfered in the 2016 elections and this is further punishment for undermining U.S. sovereignty.
    • Separation of powers:   Congress has broad authority to regulate foreign commerce, and will act as a check on the executive.
    • Russia is not the only one:   Iran and North Korea are also included in the bill for their recent missile tests, so the goal is to hamstring those countries without military intervention.
  • AGAINST THE BILL – “This increases tensions…”

    • Article 2, Section II:   This bill prevents the President’s ability to try and improve relations with Russia unilaterally.
    • Hurting business:   The European Union and Russia are currently constructing an international natural gas pipeline, and the bill will make it more difficult for investors.
    • Memories of the Cold War:   Russian and U.S. tensions have been at a high since the Cold War, and this bill increases the strain even more so.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • President Trump officially signed the Russian sanctions bill on August 2, 2017, but called it “seriously flawed”.
  • Russia retaliated prior to President Trump’s signing by ordering the United States to reduce its embassy staff in Russia by 755 people.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Read the Russia Sanctions Review Act here, including a summary of the sanctions.
  • What impact will these sanctions have on Russian/U.S. relations going forward?