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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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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.