Aug 4, 2019

A year later, Trump adds to Russia sanctions for former spy poisoning

President Trump looks at Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 2018 G20 Leaders' Summit. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration has issued a second round of economic sanctions against Russia in connection with the March 2018 nerve agent poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

Why it matters: The administration was under bipartisan criticism from lawmakers in recent weeks. Many claimed the administration had delayed "legally mandated action to follow up on sanctions imposed last August," the NYT reports.

What's happening: Under the sanctions to start in September, the U.S. will restrict the export of Commerce Department-controlled goods and technology to Russia and oppose loans and other financial assistance to Russia from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, per the AP.

  • "Aviation safety and space exploration technology" are exempted from these sanctions. Trump could have blocked Russia's state airline, Aeroflot, from landing in the U.S. — but the administration was not expected to take this option.
  • The first round of sanctions carried little real significance for Russia, since they largely demanded penalties the U.S. had already exacted for other reasons, per the NYT. Trump implemented the initial sanctions after missing a deadline from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, under pressure from Congress.
  • Trump expelled 60 diplomats and closed a Russian consulate in Seattle last year over the Skripal poisoning, but he reportedly protested to aides when that response far exceeded steps allies took.

Go deeper: Trump's dueling Russia policies

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U.S. sanctions Lebanese bank for alleged Hezbollah ties

The Hezbollah flag flying in Lebanon. Photo: Mahmoud Zayat/AFP/Getty Images

Senior Trump administration officials announced new sanctions against Lebanon-based Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries, for allegedly helping Iran wire money to U.S.-designated terror group Hezbollah, according to a press call on Thursday.

Why it matters: U.S. officials said the new sanctions should serve as a warning to other countries that intend to manipulate foreign financial institutions to fund Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. Already, the Iranian economy is struggling due to existing U.S. sanctions that went into effect in mid-2018.

Go deeper: How Trump and Tehran came to the brink of war

Keep ReadingArrowAug 29, 2019

Russia denies U.S. senators visas ahead of congressional visit

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement Tuesday Russia had refused to grant him a visa to visit the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.

Why it matters: Murphy's statement comes a day after fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Russia had refused to grant him a visa. President Trump has been trying to press G7 members to let Russia rejoin the group, after it was disinvited in 2014 from attending the summit for annexing Crimea.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 28, 2019

Trump says Russia is out of G7 because "Putin outsmarted Obama"

Trump and Putin at the G20. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump claimed today that Russian President Vladimir Putin "outsmarted" President Obama when he annexed Crimea in 2014 and that Russia was expelled from the G8 because Obama was upset at having been outmaneuvered.

Why it matters: Trump wants Russia to be allowed to rejoin the G7 club, and he has repeatedly declined to blame Putin personally for the incursions into Ukraine that united the other G8 members against him. Trump said Putin had been "a good member of the G8" and that the world is better off with Russia "inside rather than outside."

Go deeper: Highlights from Trump-Macron press conference.

Keep ReadingArrowAug 26, 2019