Deadline looms for Trump to issue further sanctions against Russia over election meddling

He missed the last deadline by almost three weeks 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Monday 29 January 2018 22:10 GMT
Federal and congressional probes are looking into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign
Federal and congressional probes are looking into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign (Getty Images )

President Donald Trump’s administration is up against a deadline to issue a list of companies and individuals that will be sanctioned for doing business with blacklisted Russian entities.

But there is still question over whether Mr Trump will comply on time amid continuing suspicion of the President’s eagerness to mend relations with Russia and ongoing investigations into whether Trump campaign advisers colluded with the Kremlin.

The sanctions were mandated by Congress in a bill passed last year to punish Russia for election meddling and aggression towards its neighbours.

Mr Trump called the legislation, which passed almost unanimously in Congress, “seriously flawed” when he signed it in August, asserting that it “encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate” with the Kremlin.

On Monday morning, White House spokesman Raj Shah told CNN that “the Department of Treasury does plan to act today to issue a report and take this process the next step forward.”

The administration missed its first deadline on October 1 to issue guidance on which Russian entities in the military and intelligence sectors should be subject to sanctions. Mr Trump was late by almost three weeks - possibly because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson eradicated the State Department’s office that oversees sanctions.

The Trump administration announced new sanctions last week related to Russia's annexation of Crimea, hitting 21 individuals and nine entities, including Russian government officials and Russian companies connected to projects in the disputed Crimean Peninsula.

The agency also sanctioned senior leaders of two Ukrainian separatist groups, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, as well as people and entities alleged to have provided them with material support.

“The US government is committed to maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to targeting those who attempt to undermine the Minsk agreements,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Those who provide goods, services, or material support to individuals and entities sanctioned by the United States for their activities in Ukraine are engaging in behavior that could expose them to US sanctions.”

Friday’s sanctions are part of the latest attempt by the administration to put pressure on the Russian government for aggression in eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine.

Last month at an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe event, Mr Tillerson told an audience that included Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the US would maintain its sanctions against Russia until Crimea is once again controlled by the government of Ukraine.

“We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” he said.

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