In early August 2018, after it was determined that the Russian government was involved in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal with the use of a Novichok nerve agent, the U.S. Department of State (State Department) ruled under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 that the Russian government had used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law. In an August 27, 2018 Federal Register notice, the U.S. government announced its sanctions in response, which became effective that date:

  • Foreign Assistance: Termination of assistance to Russia under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, except for urgent humanitarian assistance and food or other agricultural commodities or products.
  • Termination of Arms Sales: Termination of (a) sales to Russia under the Arms Export Control Act of any defense articles, defense services or design and construction services; and (b) licenses for the export to Russia of any item on the United States Munitions List.
  • Termination of Arms Sales Financing: Termination of all foreign military financing for Russia under the Arms Export Control Act.
  • Denial of U.S. Government Credit or Other Financial Assistance: Denial to Russia of any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency or instrumentality of the U.S. government, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
  • Exports of National Security-Sensitive Goods and Technology: Prohibition on the export to Russia of any goods or technology on that part of the control list established under Section 2404(c)(1) of the Appendix to Title 50.

Under three of these sanctions, the State Department has provided waivers in the interest of national security. The prohibition on foreign assistance has been fully waived in the interest of national security. Regarding arms sales, licenses will continue to be issued on a case-by-case basis in support of inter-government space cooperation and commercial space launches. Limited waivers will be applied to the sanctions concerning new licenses for national security-sensitive goods and technology on a case-by-case basis as follows:

  • License Exceptions: Exports and reexports of goods or technology eligible under License Exceptions GOV, ENC, RPL, BAG, TMP, TSU, APR, CIV and AVS.
  • Safety of Flight: Exports and reexports of goods or technology for the safety of flight of civil fixed-wing passenger aviation.
  • Deemed Exports/Reexports: Exports and reexports of goods or technology for deemed exports and reexports to Russian nationals.
  • Wholly-Owned U.S. Subsidiaries: Exports and reexports of goods or technology to wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries in Russia.
  • Commercial End-Users: Exports and reexports of goods or technology for commercial end-users’ civil end-uses in Russia.
  • State-Owned/State-Funded Enterprises: Exports and reexports of goods or technology for Russian state-owned or state-funded enterprises will be reviewed but subject to a “presumption of denial” policy.

On August 21, 2018, in a related development, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it is further targeting Russian actors’ efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions and, thus, has sanctioned certain entities and individuals for engaging in significant malicious cyber-attacks and for evasion of sanctions on North Korea in conducting ship-to-ship transfers with North Korea-flagged vessels.