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U.S. Punishes Russian Firms For Violated N. Korea Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned two Russian shipping companies on allegations of violating sanctions against North Korea by participating in ship-to-ship transfer of oil products to North Korean vessels.

The move follows sanctions on a Russian port service company and several Chinese businesses for taking part in illegal shipments of alcohol, tobacco, and cigarettes to North Korea, which is under UN sanctions as well as U.S. ones, KBS World reports.

At the same time, Washington is stepping up it wider pressure on Russia. The Wall Street Journal reports that on the same day that the Treasury Department sanctioned the two shipping companies, it also blacklisted several companies as well as individuals for allegations they had violated U.S. laws against cooperation with Russia’s intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service.

Since the start of the anti-Russia sanction drive spurred by allegations of interference in the 2016 presidential elections and cyberattacks, more than 200 Russian companies, government agencies, and individuals have been blacklisted.

While legislators have been very active in sponsoring more anti-Russia sanction bills, the White House has been warier in its approach, with President Trump drawing personal criticism for his softer stance on all Russia-related issues. Yet, the WSJ notes, officials from the Trump administration note that the sanctions need to be balanced against what the daily calls a need for cooperation with Russia on geopolitical issues such as the war in Syria and North Korea.

It’s difficult to see how this balance could be achieved as the list of anti-Russia sanction bill grows. There have been at least four recently: the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or DASKA, sponsored by Senator Lindsay Graham and five other Senators, the Secure America from Russian Interference Act, introduced by a group of Democrats in the Senate, and the DETER Act, sponsored by Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Chris Van Hollen. There is also a bill sponsored by Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming that targets specifically the Nord Stream-2 natural gas project.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh G Salameh on August 22 2018 said:
    US sanctions against Russia are becoming a big joke. Under the guise of punishing Russia for its annexation of the Crimea and so-called meddling in US presidential elections, the real target of the new sanctions like the previous ones is Russia’s oil and gas industry with the sole purpose of undermining Russia’s emergence as an energy superpower.

    Moreover, by stepping up its wider pressure on Russia, the Trump administration is trying to muddy the waters so as to distract attention from the mess in which it finds itself sinking deeper as a result of the investigations about Russian meddling in the US elections. I would not even be surprised if the Trump administration attacks Syria soon under one pretext or another to distract attention from itself. In so doing, it will be trying to rebuff claims that it is soft on Russia when it is attacking a Russia ally and provoking Russia into a bigger confrontation with the United States.

    As for the Crimea, no US sanctions will loosen Russian grip on it. The Crimea is and has always been historically an integral part of Russia. Putin is prepared to go to war, even a nuclear war, with the United States rather than relinquish the Crimea.

    Trump is a real threat to the world. He is antagonizing everybody with more sanctions on Russia, punitive tariffs on China, intrusive sanctions to be introduced on Iran, even a proposed legislation to sue OPEC for its trade practices under US antitrust laws and now sanctions on a NATO ally, Turkey with no benefit whatsoever for the United States economically or geopolitically. In fact, he is bolstering the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership, bringing Turkey and Iran closer to the Russia-China axis and even bringing the European Union (EU) closer to China and Russia. President Trump may take a step too far with Russia or China with the possibility of military conflict.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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