White House Amps Up Pressure on Russia

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The White House marked the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a raft of spending, tariffs, sanctions and export controls aimed at Russia and her enablers. 

 Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum & Chemicals.

President Biden raised tariffs on most metal and metal products – doubling them from 35 to 70 percent.  Further tariffs were increased on additional Russian products to 35 percent, including chemicals and minerals. 

The actions increased tariffs on Russian aluminum pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.  Along with the second round of tariff increases on certain Russian products under the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act  these actions will increase tariffs on Russian aluminum up to 270 percent, according to a statement from Commerce Secretary Raimondo.

Funding Increased

Additional funding announced Friday included $9.9 billion in grants for healthcare, education, and emergency services. This budget support is being disbursed via the World Bank’s Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance (PEACE) mechanism on a reimbursement basis once expenses have been verified. 

The Department of Energy continues its support for the country’s electrical grid with additional shipments of switchgear, transmission and generation equipment, and $250 million in additional emergency energy assistance “to help Ukraine further strengthen its grid.”  Along with the Ukrainian aid, the White House announced  $300 million in emergency energy assistance for Moldova, working to increase local electric power generation, provide fiscal support, and improve interconnectivity between Moldova and the European Union.

FDP/EAR99 Export Controls Expanded

The Commerce Department announced two new rules, one to broaden the industry reach of earlier sanctions, as well as measures to addiress directly Russian use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the conflict.  

“Export Control Measures on Iran Under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to Address Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Their Use by Russia Against Ukraine” [Rule]  

imposes new export control measures on Iran in order to address the use of Iranian UAVs by Russia in its ongoing war against Ukraine by:

  • Imposing license requirements for a subset of generally low-technology (“EAR99”) items, including semiconductors that are destined for Iran, regardless of whether a U.S. person is involved in the transaction.
  • Establishes a new list (Supplement No. 7 to part 746) identifying these EAR99 items by HTS-6 Code to allow BIS and other U.S. government agencies to track and quantify these exports.
  • Creates a new “Iran Foreign Direct Product (FDP) Rule” specific to Iran for items in certain categories of the Commerce Control List and EAR99 items identified in the new supplement.
  • Revises the existing Russia/Belarus FDP rule to cover EAR99 items that have been found in UAVs contain parts and components branded U.S. or U.S.-origin (although they may not actually be U.S. branded or U.S.-origin) which will help to ensure that U.S. products are not available for shipment to Iran for use in the manufacture of UAVs being used by Russia in Ukraine.

These controls are in addition to BIS’s action on January 31, 2023, which added seven Iranian entities involved in the manufacture of UAVs to the Entity List as Russian ‘Military End Users,’ thereby subjecting them to some of the most comprehensive export restrictions under the EAR, including on foreign-produced items under the Russia/Belarus Military End User FDP rule.

“Implementation of Additional Sanctions Against Russia and Belarus Under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and Refinements to Existing Controls” [Rule]

revises the EAR to enhance the existing sanctions against Russia and Belarus by expanding the scope of the Russian and Belarusian industry sector restrictions (oil and gas production; commercial and industrial items; chemical and biological precursors) and the ‘luxury goods’ sanctions to better align them with the controls that have been implemented by U.S. allies and partners imposing substantially similar controls on Russia and Belarus.  This rule also refines other existing controls on Russia and Belarus that were imposed in response to the February 2022 invasion.

Entity List Expanded

Commerce is adding 86 entities under 89 entries (due to some entities operating in multiple countries) to the Entity List for a variety of reasons related to their activities in support of Russia’s defense-industrial sector and war effort. Seventy-nine of the entities are added under the country heading of Russia, five are listed under the country heading of China, two are based in Canada, and France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands each have one entry. Several of the entities in these countries are subsidiaries of entities based in China and Russia.  [FR 2023-04099] and [FR 2023-03929]

OFAC Actions

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing Russia-related

  • General License 8F, "Authorizing Transactions Related to Energy,"
  • General License 13D, "Authorizing Certain Administrative Transactions Prohibited by Directive 4 under Executive Order 14024,"
  • General License 60, "Authorizing the Wind Down and Rejection of Transactions Involving Certain Entities Blocked on February 24, 2023,",
  • and General License 61, "Authorizing Transactions Related to Debt or Equity of, or Derivative Contracts Involving, Certain Entities Blocked on February 24, 2023."
  • Additionally, OFAC is issuing five associated Frequently Asked Questions (1114-1118).
  • OFAC is also publishing a Determination Pursuant to Section 1(a)(i) of Executive Order 14024.
  • OFAC is also imposing sanctions on 22 individuals and 83 entities

While Russian banks representing over 80 percent of total Russian banking sector assets are already subject to U.S and international sanctions, OFAC today is designating over a dozen financial institutions in Russia, including one of the top-ten largest banks by asset value.    

OFAC is enhancing and expanding its use of Russia-related sanctions authorities by issuing a determination that identifies the metals and mining sector of the Russian Federation economy pursuant to section 1(a)(i) of Executive Order (E.O.) 14024.  This action complements existing provisions for sanctions against those that operate or have operated in the quantum computing, accounting, trust and corporate formation, management consulting, aerospace, marine, electronics, financial services, technology, and defense and related materiel sectors of the Russian Federation economy.

Entities named include firms that produce or import specialized, high-technology equipment used by Russian defense entities and companies that make advanced materials used in Russian weapons systems, notably carbon-fiber materials.

Individuals named included Swiss-Italian businessman Walter Moretti and several German and Swiss associates alleged to have  covertly procured sensitive Western technologies and equipment for Russian intelligence services and the Russian military, including hydraulic presses, armament packages, and armor plating. Moretti and his associates have also procured equipment for Russia’s nuclear weapons laboratories.