Biden Administration Issues New Sanctions on Russia in Connection with SolarWinds and Election Interference Efforts
On April 15, 2021, President Biden signed a new Executive Order on "Blocking Property with Respect to Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation," declaring a new national emergency and authorizing sweeping sanctions in response to recent "harmful foreign activities" undertaken by Russia. Further, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a directive prohibiting certain dealings in Russian sovereign debt and imposed new targeted sanctions. These sanctions designated 22 entities and 16 individuals as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) in connection with efforts to undermine US national security, including involvement in the Kremlin-linked SolarWinds cyber-attack and Russia's efforts to influence the 2020 US presidential election. Treasury also designated additional persons regarding Russia's continued occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. In parallel, the State Department expelled 10 Russian diplomats, including several representatives of the Russian intelligence services.
The new sanctions do not target activities related to the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project. The Biden Administration previously issued a strong warning to entities involved in the pipeline, but there have been reports that, although sanctions were prepared, they were pulled back amid ongoing debate within the Administration. Still, at his April 15, 2021 press conference, President Biden reiterated his criticism of Nord Stream 2 and said that the situation was "still in play."
These sanctions reflect the latest escalation of US-Russia tensions and create serious compliance challenges for both US and non-US persons doing business with Russia. They also signal that the Biden Administration intends to take a strong stance on Russia's extraterritorial activities that are harmful to US interests. For more details about these new sanctions, please review our recent Advisory or contact the authors.
© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2021 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.