As of February 22, 2022, President Biden and the Departments of State, Commerce and the Treasury have implemented an array of sanctions and export controls severely restricting international trade and financing involving Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These have been primarily imposed and implemented pursuant to executive orders, the Ukraine-/Russia Related Sanctions Regulations and the Russian Harmful Foreign Activity Sanctions Regulations. Below are summaries of the sanctions most relevant to the automotive and other mobility industries.

As a result of these restrictions, businesses in the auto and mobility sectors are carefully reviewing any transactions related to Russia. The restrictions, as well as political considerations, have led many OEMs to suspend or limit current operations in Russia.

Blocking and other restrictions imposed against major financial institutions in Russian and Belarus. Sanctions have targeted major financial institutions in Russia and Belarus. For example, most significant Russian banks have been placed on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list, including Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank, VTB Bank Public Joint Stock Company and most recently, Public Joint Stock Company Sberbank of Russia. As of the date of their designation to the SDN list by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), all property and interests in property of the SDNs, including all entities and property owned 50% or greater, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, by the SDNs are blocked and cannot be dealt in by any U.S. person unless generally or specifically authorized by OFAC.

Other financial institutions have been placed on non-SDN lists by OFAC, which impose other restrictions pursuant to Directives 1-4 under EO 14024 or Directives 1-3 under EO 13662. The Directives impose restrictions on new debt, new equity and corresponding payable through accounts at banks designated pursuant to the Directive. For more information on what is restricted and what is authorized pursuant to blocking and non-blocking sanctions against these financial institutions, see our March 9 update.

These sanctions have a significant impact on financing and payment arrangements with not only the designated banks but also, in many instances, their global subsidiaries. As a result, transactions involving the auto industry in Russia require careful scrutiny of not only parties to a transaction (suppliers, customers, OEMs, carriers) but also the financial institutions that will be facilitating payment.

New export controls on trade with Russia and Belarus involving all items on the CCL and “luxury goods.” The Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury have also imposed hefty export controls on Russia and Belarus. For example, as of April 8, 2022, all exports, reexports and in-country transfers of goods, technology and software to Russia or Belarus “subject to Export Administration Regulations (EAR)” and listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL) are prohibited absent a license from Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). In addition, BIS expanded the “foreign direct product rule” to provide that many items manufactured outside the United States through the use of U.S. origin technology are now subject to the EAR and require a BIS license for export to Russia. In the auto industry, many companies are realizing that fairly standard items such as semiconductor chips and ECMs for car components may be subject to the new export controls. For additional information, see our April 11 update.

President Biden also issued EO 14068 on March 11, 2022, which, among other things, prohibits the “exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a U.S. person, of luxury goods.” On that same date, BIS issued a final rule restricting the export, reexport or in-country transfer of “luxury goods” to Russia or Belarus as well as those “that are destined for Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and malign actors, regardless of their geographical location.” The list of luxury goods includes many automobiles and motorcycles. For additional information, see our March 14 update. The European Union has issued similar, and perhaps broader, restrictions. Together these measures are greatly restricting supply chains serving automotive manufacturing facilities in Russia.

Embargo against the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) of Ukraine. While the United States had previously imposed a comprehensive embargo against the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014, it expanded the embargo to also cover Ukraine’s so-called DNR and LNR regions. Nearly all direct or indirect transactions, dealings or trade in or with the DNR, LNR or persons in these regions is prohibited. For more information on what is restricted and what is authorized in the region, see our March 9 update.

Pending sanctions on export of certain “services” to Russia and Belarus. On April 6, 2022, President Biden issued EO 14071, which, among other things, prohibits the “exportation, reexportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a U.S. person” of certain services to any person in Russia. The types or categories of services that will be banned are yet to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury Department.

These sanctions and export controls have wide-reaching implications across industries and have severely disrupted mobility and automotive supply chains in the region. In addition to financial institutions, many other state-owned entities in Russia and Belarus have been designated to the SDN list, impacting not only financing but also logistics, shipping and production. Businesses in the automotive and mobility industries should continue to monitor these changes and ensure that their investment, trade and financing activities in the region comply with U.S. sanctions and export controls.