CAATSA Overview

Congress enacted the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) on August 2, 2017 in response to Russia’s continuing occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and cyber-interference in the 2018 United States Presidential elections. We previously covered CAATSA in blog posts here and here. CAATSA was notable because it passed the House of Representatives with a 419-3 approval margin and passed the Senate with a 98-2 approval margin. Among other things, CAATSA required President Donald Trump to take certain actions on the 180-day anniversary of CAATSA’s adoption, which included (but were not limited to): (i) imposing sanctions (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 231 sanctions”) against persons engaged in “significant transactions” with Russia’s defense or intelligence sectors; and (ii) preparing and submitting a report (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 241 report”) to various congressional committees identifying senior political figures and oligarchs within Russia. January 29, 2018 marked CAATSA’s 180-day anniversary and, as a result, it sparked a flurry of activity related to the CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and the CAATSA Section 241 report.
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White HouseToday, President Trump officially signed H.R. 3364, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) into law. CAATSA originated as a bill which was focused on only Iran. However, partially in response to Russian cyber-interference with the 2016 election, the Senate expanded CAATSA to impose additional sanctions against Russia and also codify into law various sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration in the form of Executive Orders. The House of Representatives then approved these additions and added further sanctions against North Korea. Eventually, the House and Senate approved the final version of CAATSA by a margin of 419-3 and 98-2, respectively. For additional detail on CAATSA’s legislative history, please see our previous alerts here, here and here.

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Congress ChamberYesterday, July 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” by a vote of 419-3. The bill originated as an act in the Senate which was focused on Iran. In response to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, the Senate expanded that bill to include additional sanctions against Russia, codify various Russia-Ukraine sanctions promulgated by the Obama Administration into law and add procedural provisions to delay or prevent any efforts by the Trump Administration to relax those codified Obama Administration sanctions. The Senate passed their revised version of this legislation last month by a vote of 98-2. For more information on the Senate’s earlier approval, please see our post on June 16th.

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Treasury DepartmentToday, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has updated the U.S. sanctions list of designated individuals and entities involved in the Ukrainian conflict. The announcement was made while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was meeting with President Trump and other officials at the White House.

This action designates 38 individuals and entities under Ukraine-related authorities, thereby blocking access to property these individuals may have in the United States and prohibiting all transactions by U.S. persons involving these individuals.


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shipping containersOn December 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued its latest round of Russian sanctions as part of the ongoing U.S. response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its subsequent escalation of conflict in the region. The new sanctions target seven individuals, eight entities, and two vessels. OFAC also added an additional 26 subsidiaries of Russian banks already subject to sanctions to the U.S. Sectoral Sanctions List. The new sanctions come one day after the European Union extended its sanctions against Russia for an additional six months.
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Bridge ConstuctionOn September 1, 2016, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed sanctions on 37 new individuals and entities to prevent attempts to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Russia, help the private sector with compliance and to foster a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. The new list (found here) includes 17 separatists in eastern Ukraine or Russian-occupied Crimea, including 11 officials operating in Crimea.  18 companies operating in Crimea, including a number of construction, defense and maritime firms, and a Ukrainian charity were added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.  The list includes construction companies, PJSC Mostotrest and SGM –Most OOO, which were awarded contracts to complete the Kerch Strait Bridge to connect Russia to Crimea.
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Treasury Building_155316661The U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), this week imposed sanctions on fourteen additional Ukrainian and Russian individuals and two organizations, including the Russian National Commercial Bank (RNCB), by adding them to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. These designations were issued pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13660 for undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and misappropriation of Ukrainian states assets, and E.O. 13685 for operating in Crimea Region.

Treasury stated that the RNCB was added to the sanctions list because it had no presence in the Crimea region prior to the occupation by Russia, and because Russian authorities have illegally used the bank in efforts to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation.


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On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (UFSA) into law,broadening the Administration’s authority to impose sanctions in response to continued Russian activity in Ukraine. Although the legislation authorizes the President to increase sanctions, he has stated that “this does not signal a change in the Administration’s sanctions policy” and the Administration does not intend to impose further sanctions at this time.

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As described in our Alert published on August 1, 2014, the United States and other nations have ramped up sanctions against Russia related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

On July 31, 2014, the European Union imposed increased sanctions designed to discourage Russia from, in the words of the EU Regulation, “destabilising the situation in Ukraine.”


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In response to Russia’s continuing actions in Ukraine, the United States and other nations have implemented increased economic sanctions that significantly broaden the scope of the sanctions previously in place. In addition to the U.S. actions, Canada, the European Union and Japan have imposed similar sanctions against Russia, including asset freezes and individual designations.

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