The threat of sanctions is putting enough pressure on Russia for now, but new penalties may hit Moscow’s arms trade partners abroad, the Trump administration says, adding there are more details in a classified report to Congress.
Monday was the date set for the administration to impose sanctions under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), adopted with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate last July.
“Today, we have informed Congress that this legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defense sales,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Since the law was enacted “we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions,” she added.
Members of Congress were informed in a classified briefing, according to a statement cited by Politico reporter Elana Schor.
More on Russia sanctions from State Dept spox. “When and if we have sanctions to announce, we will do so. … should sanctions be imposed, they would primarily be on non-Russian entities that are responsible for significant transactions w/Russia’s defense & intelligence sector.” pic.twitter.com/HniwuXTwLv
— Elana Schor (@eschor) January 29, 2018
Under CAATSA, the US has been putting foreign governments and private entities “on notice,” warning them against “significant transactions” with Russia. This, according to the State Department, is pressuring Russia to address the allegations Washington has been throwing at Russia for the past few years: “aggression in Ukraine, interference in other nations’ domestic affairs and abuses of human rights.”
“When and if we have sanctions to announce, we will do so,” it added. Even so, the measures would be primarily aimed against “non-Russian entities that are responsible for significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sector.”
The goal of the sanctions would be to deny Moscow the profits from selling Russian military and intelligence equipment, Nauert explained.
Her statement falls short of the expected “oligarchs list” outlined in CAATSA, which would have included “indices of corruption” and the net worth and known sources of income of the people named and their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Any US assets, such as real estate, were also ordered to be listed, according to the New York Times.
The intent was to “name and shame” Russian oligarchs and send a message that “Putin’s aggression in terms of Russian interference in our elections will be very costly to them,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who led the State Department Russia sanctions office, as quoted by USA Today.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said last week that Moscow regards the sanctions as “counterproductive and senseless.”
On Friday, the Trump administration announced sanctions against 21 individuals, including Russian energy minister Andrey Cherezov, as well as nine business entities.