THE JOURNAL OF EXPORT CONTROLS AND SANCTIONS

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U.S. bill seeks congressional oversight of Russian sanctions relief

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation that would allow Congress to review any decision by the White House to ease sanctions against Russia. The Russia Sanctions Review Act 2017, introduced on 8 February, requires that the administration submits to Congress a description of any proposed sanctions relief for individuals engaged in malicious cyber acts, those contributing to the situation in the Ukraine, and those engaged in certain transactions concerning Crimea. It also requires certification that Moscow has ceased its activities in undermining the government of Ukraine and has stopped cyber-attacks against the U.S. government and its citizens.

‘Russia has done nothing to be rewarded with sanctions relief,’ said Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who is spearheading the bill together with Democrat Ben Cardin. ‘To provide relief at this time would send the wrong signal to Russia and our allies who face Russian oppression. Sanctions relief must be earned, not given.’

President Trump’s expressed wish for a warmer relationship with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, has created doubt in some quarters that he will maintain sanctions against Russia, introduced as a response for its involvement in the Ukraine.

The new legislation would allow the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives 120 days to act – or decide not to act – on any sanctions relief, during which time President Trump would not be able to act on sanctions. If after this period the Senate and the House of Representatives had not voted in favour of a Joint Resolution of Disapproval, sanctions relief will be granted.

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