Acuant Compliance Sanctions Update 4.28.22: The Russia-Ukraine Crisis
April 28, 2022
Additional global sanctions have been introduced by world leaders as Russia’s military assault on Ukraine continues. For previously imposed sanctions, read our introductory sanctions blog and our 3.7.22, 3.21.22 and 4.8.22 sanctions updates.
Continue reading to learn about some of the latest sanctions.
Current Snapshot of Sanctions as of 4.28.2022
United States: As of April 18th, the US State Department is considering whether to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for their military actions in Ukraine, but administration officials caution that this determination can take weeks until finalized. If this designation does come into play, Russia would become the fifth country labeled by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, joining Syria, Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Joining those ranks would also mean additional prohibitive measures against Russia as well as sanctions against individuals and countries that engage in certain trade with Russia.
On April 20th, the United States announced new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities suspected to be assisting Russia in avoiding the economic implications of the previously imposed global sanctions. Those sanctioned include a Russian commercial central bank and its subsidiaries and 40 additional oligarchs.
The administration has also continued its sanctions on Russian-related cryptocurrency, this time focusing on the country’s virtual currency mining industry—considered the third largest crypto mining industry in the world—by sanctioning the holding company of the Moscow-based bitcoin miner, BitRiver. BitRiver is regarded as one of the largest bitcoin mining hosts in Europe and is known for having its bitcoin mining centers in Siberia. OFAC also sanctioned 10 of the company’s Russia-based subsidiaries.
As part of accountability measures for human rights abuses, the Biden administration announced 635 visa restrictions on people that will no longer be allowed to travel into the United States. The US State Department has also applied visa restrictions on 17 individuals that they consider “responsible for undermining democracy in Belarus.”
The US is considering a total ban on Russian energy—which could mean sanctioning other countries for importing Russian energy—and is working to do so in a way that would not sanction European and other allies that have been including energy-related embargos as part of their sanctions packages.
As of April 25th, there have been increased calls for the US to sanction Alina Kabaeva for her possible role in helping President Putin hide his personal wealth overseas. Kabaeva is suspected to be Putin’s girlfriend and the mother of three of his children. While a sanctions package has already been prepared, officials are holding off for now. The US had previously sanctioned two of Putin’s adult daughters.
European Union: As of April 26th, the EU is expected to announce its sixth sanctions package against Russia. The sanctions are expected to target Russia’s banks as well as the gas and oil sectors. According to the Commission president, the EU is hard at work stopping its dependency on Russian coal and is now looking for embargo options for oil and gas. However, there are a number of EU ambassadors that are worried about the implication of these likely new sanctions and the possible negative global impact they will have if the bloc indeed sanctions Russian gas and oil.
In response to the EU’s sanctions, President Putin announced that countries—those considered to be “unfriendly”—that purchase Russian gas will now have to do so in rubles, prompting the European Commission’s President von der Leyen to quickly issue a warning that European companies that do so may find themselves breaching EU sanctions. Russia also abruptly stopped gas sales to Poland and Bulgaria for not paying in rubles, behavior for which the EU called “blackmail.”
Switzerland: During talks in Tokyo on April 18th, the Swiss president and Japanese prime minister agreed that imposing tough sanctions is still essential for holding Russia accountable over its invasion of Ukraine and its attack on civilians. In a separate news conference, the Swiss president stated that while Switzerland is fully backing EU sanctions and condemning Putin’s actions, the country will not be breaking its neutrality policy by providing supplies of war or military assistance to Ukraine.
On April 27th, it was announced that Switzerland would be imposing additional sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The sanctions on Russia include an export ban on industrial-related items such as industrial robots and certain chemicals. A new import ban has also been placed on coal and other Russian revenue sources such as seafood and timber. As part of intended upcoming financial sanctions, Russian nationals that reside in Switzerland will no longer be able to register trusts in the country.
As for Belarus, in a previous package against Belarusian residents and nationals, Switzerland had banned the export of securities and bank notes in Swiss francs and euros. However, the newest package is more comprehensive as it now bans the export in all EU currencies for banknotes and sales of currencies.
United Kingdom: On April 17th, the United Kingdom increased trade restrictions on Russia, which include a ban on the export of luxury goods and a ban on the import of Russian iron and steel, becoming more aligned with trade bans by the US, EU and other G7 countries. The UK also announced asset freeze restrictions on more than 200 Russian individuals.
As of April 21st, the UK announced new sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including sanctions on Russian military leaders; a 35% increase in tariffs for goods from both countries, such as caviar and diamonds; and other non-military individuals that are actively supporting the Russian invasion.
Other Updates: On April 20th, Binance announced it would be limiting its services in Russia, one of its top five markets globally. The cryptocurrency exchange is considered to be the world’s largest exchange based on trading volume. To comply with the EU’s ban on high-value crypto-assets services in Russia—introduced earlier in April as part of the EU’s fifth sanctions package—Binance will be limiting services for Russian entities and individuals that hold crypto assets higher than 10,000 euros.
For companies looking to ensure regulatory compliance as global sanctions continue to evolve, AML technology with sanctions screening in real time is of the utmost importance and necessity.
Learn about the latest sanctions against Russia in our new The Current State of Sanctions: May 2022 eBook.