A Timeline for U.S./EU Sanctions Against Russia

Ukraine-related sanctions imposed on certain Russian and Ukrainian persons and entities in response to crackdown on the Maidan protests and Russian intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, have been in place for over a year now. In spite of the signing of Minsk II Agreement in February 2015 violence is still ongoing and more US/EU sanctions may lie in store in the future. While the EU and U.S. have taken what might be a brief respite in applying additional sanctions since February and March, respectively, now would be a good time to review the U.S. and EU’s coordinated sanctions policy in respect to Russia.

The U.S. and EU began laying the framework for a coordinated response to Russia more than a week before Crimeans voted in the March 16, 2014 referendum – considered illegal by the U.S. and EU, as well as the General Assembly of the United Nations – to join the Russian Federation. While the U.S. and EU coordinated their respective sanctions policies, there are still a number of discrepancies that arose. These differences were due to the EU’s deeper economic relationship with Russia, as well as the suprationational nature of the EU itself which is an organization of countries, some of which  have more amicable ties with Russia than others. As a result, EU sanctions started off mildly in comparison with those of the U.S., which immediately following the Crimean referendum went after prominent individuals and entities in the Russian government and business sectors.

Following the escalation of violence in the summer of 2014 and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over separatist-held territory in Donetsk, the EU began targeting more prominent individuals and entities and working more closely with the U.S. to go after Russian entities operating in the country’s key economic sectors (banking/finance, defense/military, and energy). U.S./EU sanctions reached a peak in September 2014 with the implementation of wide-ranging sectoral and blocking-type sanctions (i.e. asset freezes, visa/travel bans, prohibitions on U.S./EU nationals from transacting with the target, etc.) imposed on prominent Russian state-owned companies and banks. This was followed in December 2014 by a comprehensive U.S. trade embargo on the Crimean peninsula, which complemented the EU’s embargo on the region. Since the signing of the Minsk II Agreement in February 2015, the U.S. and EU have only targeted individuals and entities tied to the continuing unrest in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Comprehensive Timeline of 2014/2015 United States and European Union Sanctions

March 5, 2014 (EU)

Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 goes into force, placing restrictive measures on persons identified as responsible for the “misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds” and for “human rights violations.” Eighteen persons, including former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, are identified in the Annex to this regulation, which entails the freezing of their assets (in the EU or held by EU persons) and the imposition of travel bans (to the EU).

March 6, 2014 (U.S.)

U.S. President Barack Obama signs Executive Order 13660, authorizing sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine and contributing to the “misappropriation of its assets.” Specifically, the executive order gives the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of the State, the authority to impose sanctions on (i) persons engaged in actions that undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes and institutions, threaten the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and misappropriate the state assets of Ukraine; (ii) persons to have asserted authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the government of Ukraine; (iii) persons who have materially supported or financed any of the aforementioned or any other persons who are blocked pursuant to this order; and (iv) persons owned or controlled, or to have acted on behalf of, whether directly or indirectly, anyone blocked pursuant to this order.

March 16, 2014 (U.S.)

In response to the referendum in Crimea, President Obama signs Executive Order 13661, which gives the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority to impose sanctions on persons identified as (i) a government official in Russia; (ii) a person operating in the Russian defense sector; (iii) being owned or controlled by a senior Russian government official or a person who is sanctioned; and (iv) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, or in support of a senior official or blocked person. Pursuant to E.O. 13661, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury (OFAC), responsible for administering and enforcing economic and trade sanctions, lists 11 persons on its Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN), effectively freezing any assets they may have on U.S. soil or with U.S. persons and banning their travel to the United States.

March 17, 2014 (EU)

A day after the United States, the EU adopts Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014, placing restrictive measures on these persons “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” Twenty-one persons are listed in the Annex of this regulation, and are therefore banned from entering into EU territory and subject to having their assets, whether in the EU or held by EU persons, frozen. Many of those listed in the Annex of this regulation were involved in the Crimean referendum, including Sergey Aksyonov, who was proclaimed “Prime Minister” of Crimea on February 27 after a disputed election in the Crimean legislature in the presence of armed men.

March 20, 2014 (U.S.)

President Obama signs Executive Order 13662 giving the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority to impose blocking or other types of sanctions on entities and persons operating in the financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense sectors, thereby introducing the concept of “sectoral sanctions.” While OFAC did not get into sectoral sanctions until July 2014, on March 20 it immediately designated on the SDN list 20 individuals and 1 entity, Bank Rossiya (then ranked 17th in size in Russia), which, according to the Department of Treasury, acted as the personal bank for senior Russian officials. Notable listed individuals include Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, Yuri Kovalchuk (the largest single shareholder of Bank Rossiya), Vladimir Yakunin, the chairman of the board of the state-owned company Russian Railways, and Gennady Timchenko, a wealthy businessman and former majority shareholder in the Volga Group, an investment strategy group that holds a variety of assets on behalf of Timchenko.

March 21, 2014 (EU)

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 284/2014 enters into force, under which an additional 12 persons are added to the Annex first established by Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014, which entered into force on March 17, 2014. Among those listed are Dmitry Rogozin, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, outspoken Duma Deputy Elena Mizulina, and Head of the Russian Federal State news agency (Rossiya Segodnya) Dmitry Kiselyov.

April 11, 2014 (U.S.)

Pursuant to the authorities it is given under E.O. 13660 (targeting individuals responsible for violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine), OFAC designated an additional 7 individuals and 1 entity, Chernomorneftgaz, to its SDN list. Chernomorneftgaz, which was the subsidiary of the Ukrainian state-owned gas company, was targeted due to the fact that on March 18, 2014 the Crimean Parliament voted to transfer its assets to a company of the same name (thereby misappropriating Ukrainian state assets in the view of U.S. law).

April 14, 2014 (EU)

The EU adopts Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 381/2014, adding an additional four individuals, including former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Sergey Arbuzov, to the Annex of blocked persons under Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 (of March 5, 2014). All four persons, including Arbuzov, were blocked for being a person subject to investigation on the suspicion that they embezzled Ukrainian state funds and illegally transferred them outside of Ukraine.

April 28, 2014 (U.S.)

Pursuant to the authorities it is given under E.O. 13661, OFAC designated 7 individuals and 17 entities to the SDN list. Among the individuals who are blocked on this date, the most notable is Igor Sechin, who serves as the President and Chairman of the Management Board for Rosneft, Russia’s leading petroleum company and one of the world’s largest publicly-traded oil companies. According to the Department of Treasury, Sechin has shown “utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin”, which is likely the reason why he was specifically targeted. A majority of the designated entities were targeted for being owned or controlled by the Volga Group, which was also targeted by this round of U.S. sanctions and whose former largest shareholder was designated on the SDN list by OFAC on March 20, 2014.

April 28, 2014 (EU)

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 433/2014 enters into force, adding an additional 15 individuals to the Annex contained in Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 (March 17, 2014). Most of the individuals designated for blocking in accordance with EU Ukraine-related sanctions were either involved in the annexation of Crimea by Russia or in the then-burgeoning separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. The most notable targeted individual in this round of EU sanctions was Igor Strelkov, who was then presumed by the U.S. and EU to be operating with the Main Intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU), and who led large contingents of the Donbass rebels against Ukrainian government forces during the summer of 2014.

May 12, 2014 (EU)

The Council of the European Union passes Council Regulation (EU) No 476/2014, amending the March 17, 2014 regulation to give way for targeting entities or bodies in Crimea or Sevastopol whose ownership was transferred contrary to Ukrainian law, or persons or other entities that may have benefitted from such an illegal transfer. Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 477/2014, which was implemented in immediate succession, designates 13 individuals to the Annex contained in the March 17, 2014 regulation, as well as 2 entities, namely PJSC Chernomorneftegaz and Feodosia (both of which are energy companies whose assets were confiscated by the Crimean authorities).

June 20, 2014 (U.S.)

The United States adds an additional 7 individuals to the OFAC SDN list pursuant to E.O. 13660, most of them targeted for being involved in separatist activities in eastern Ukraine. The most notable targeted individual is separatist leader Igor Strelkov.

June 23, 2014 (EU)

Council Regulation (EU) No 692/2014 enters into force, prohibiting the import and financing thereof of goods originating on the Crimean peninsula into the EU. However, the prohibition does not apply to goods coming from Crimea that have been made available to the Ukrainian authorities for examination and that are imported into the EU in compliance with EU legislation and trade agreements.

July 11, 2014 (EU)

The EU passes another round of sanctions with the entry into force of Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 753/2014, adding an additional 11 individuals, mostly Ukrainian separatists, to the Annex of the March 17, 2014 regulation, including, most notably, Alexander Borodai, who was at the time the so-called “Prime Minister” of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

July 16, 2014 (U.S.)

OFAC introduces the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List for the purposes of applying tailored, “sectoral” sanctions to a number of entities in accordance with E.O. 13662, which was issued on March 20, 2014. Up until this point, all designations made by OFAC were made pursuant to E.O.’s 13660 and 13661, and all targeted individuals were designated on the SDN list, which entails full blocking action (unlike SSI list designations). On July 16, 2014, OFAC issued Directives 1 and 2, which target Russian state banking/financial institutions and state energy companies, respectively. Directive 1prohibits U.S. persons or those within the United States from dealing in new equity and debt of longer than 90 days (this has since been amended to 30 days as of September 12, 2014) of entities subject to the directive; while Directive 2 only prohibits dealing in new debt of longer than 90 days maturity of the relevant designated entities. On this day, Gazprombank and Vnesheconombank (the Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs) are designated pursuant to Directive 1; while energy companies Novatek and Rosneft fall under Directive 2.

OFAC also added 4 new individuals, including Alexander Borodai, and 11 entities to its SDN list. Of the 11 entities listed, 8 are state companies active in the Russian military/defense sector, including Kalashnikov Concern, which produces the iconic AK-47.

July 25, 2014 (EU)

With the passage and adoption of Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 810/2014, the EU adds another 15 individuals, including outspoken Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, to its sanctions list, as well as 9 entities targeted for undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine, and another 9 entities whose ownership had been transferred contrary to Ukrainian law.

July 29, 2014 (U.S.)

OFAC designates United Shipbuilding Corporation to the SDN List pursuant to E.O. 13661, and designates 3 entities – Bank of Moscow, Russian Agricultural Bank, and VTB Bank – to the SSI list under Directive 1. VTB is Russia’s second largest bank, while Bank of Moscow is a subsidiary of VTB. The designations of these 3 banks, as well as of Gazprombank and Vnesheconombank, do not constitute “blocking” actions; therefore, these banks, as well as their clients, may still use U.S. services such as Visa and MasterCard. Only their access to U.S./Western financing is hindered.

July 30, 2014 (EU)

With Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 826/2014, the EU designates another 8 individuals and 3 entities. Notable targeted individuals include Yuri Kovalchuk, the chairman and largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya and who is also targeted by U.S. sanctions, and Arkady Rotenberg, who was targeted by this round of EU sanctions for being the major shareholder of Giprotransmost, a company which received a public procurement contract from the Russian government to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of a bridge from Russia to Crimea.

The entities targeted by the EU in this round of sanctions include JSC Concern Almaz Antey, which manufactures anti-aircraft weaponry (note: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over separatist held territory in Donetsk on July 17, 2014 with the type of weaponry that JSC Concern Almaz Antey produces), Dobrolet, a subsidiary of Aeroflot which had been flying exclusively between Moscow and Simferopol (the capital of Crimea), and Russian National Commercial Bank, a Moscow-based bank that had been sold by Bank of Moscow to the Crimean government and which expanded rapidly and exclusively within the Crimean peninsula following its annexation by Russia.

The European Union Council also passes Council Regulation (EU) No 825/2014 amending Council Regulation (EU) No 692/2014 – the regulation that laid the framework for the EU trade embargo on the Crimean peninsula – to include new provisions restricting investments (i.e. extending loans or credit, acquiring or extending participation in an entity, or creating a joint venture) related to infrastructure in the sectors of transport, telecommunications, energy and the exploitation of natural resources on the Crimean peninsula and banning the export from the EU to Crimea of key equipment and technology related to the aforementioned sectors.

July 31, 2014 (EU)

The entry into force of Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 marks the EU’s foray into the concept of sectoral sanctions and reflects deepening coordination between EU and U.S. policymakers on Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Russian banks Sberbank (ranked number one in terms of size in Russia), VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank, and Rosselkhozbank were targeted with tailored, non-blocking sanctions in which EU persons or persons based in the EU are prohibited from dealing in equity or debt with a maturity exceeding 90 days issued after August 1, 2014. As these sectoral sanctions, much like the ones imposed by the U.S., do not constitute blocking (freezing of the target’s assets, prohibitions from transacting with the targeted entity, etc.) actions, Russian or other citizens with accounts at these targeted banks can still withdraw and transact unhindered. The EU also carved out an exception by which entities within the EU that are 50% or more owned by these targeted banks would not be subject to these sectoral sanctions (Sberbank and VTB Bank in particular have considerable private and retail banking operations in the European Union).

The EU also imposed restrictions on the export of certain dual-use goods and technology to Russia or Russian entities if such goods are intended for military use or a military end-user (this prohibition, however, does not affect technology for aeronautics and the space industry and for goods that are not intended for military use or a military end-user). More significantly, however, the EU imposed a prior authorization requirement for the sale, supply, transfer or export of certain technologies for the oil industry in Russia (note, however, that the EU does not target the gas industry for obvious reasons).

September 12, 2014 (U.S.)

OFAC issues an amended Directive 1 reducing the maturity term for dealings in new debt of the relevant sanctioned entities (operating in the Russian banking/financial sector) from 90 to 30 days. Furthermore, OFAC also issues Directives 3 and 4, which lay out tailored restrictions for entities deemed to be operating in the Russian military/defense and oil/gas sectors, respectively. Pursuant to Directive 3, U.S. persons or persons based within the U.S. are prohibited from dealing in new debt of longer than 30 days maturity of listed entities subject to this Directive. Directive 4 differs from the previous 3 directives in that it deals mainly with the provision of technology to targeted entities operating in the Russian oil and gas sector, prohibiting U.S. persons or persons based in the U.S. from providing, exporting and re-exporting any goods, services (with the exception of financial services) or technology in support of exploration for deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil in Russia or in the maritime area claimed by Russia. Rosneft, which was designated on the SSI list pursuant to Directive 2, also comes under Directive 4. Other entities subject to Directive 4 SSI sanctions on this date include Gazpromneft (which also falls under Directive 2 SSI sanctions), Gazprom, Lukoil, and Surgutneftegas. New designations made subject to Directive 2 include the aforementioned Gazpromneft, as well as AK Transneft. The only designation made subject to Directive 3 is Rostec, also known as the “Russian Technologies State Corporation for Assistance to Development, production and Export of Advanced Technology Industrial Product.” Sberbank is added to the SSI List subject to Directive 1 sanctions.

OFAC also added 5 entities, all of which operate in the military/defense sector in Russia, to the SDN list, including JSC Concern Almaz Antey, which had been blocked by the EU in July 2014.

September 12, 2014 (EU)

Passed on September 8, 2014 but entering into force on September 12, Council Regulation (EU) No 960/2014 amends Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 (of July 31, 2014) imposing additional restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology to Russia and Russian entity, prohibiting the provision of services for deepwater and arctic oil exploration and production, as well as for shale oil projects, and limiting dealings in the transferable securities and debt of certain (listed) Russian entities engaged in the Russian military and oil sectors. Furthermore, the EU amends the relevant provision placing sectoral sanctions on certain entities in the Russian banking/finance sector, shortening the permitted maturity date for debts of the particularly targeted entities dealt with by EU persons or persons within the EU from 90 to 30 days.

Most notably, Gazpromneft, Transneft, and Rosneft (Russian oil sector), as well as OPK Oboronprom, United Aircraft Corporation and Uralvagonzavod (Russian military sector), become subject to the EU’s sectoral sanctions prohibiting EU persons or persons within the EU from dealing with their transferable securities  (equity) and debt with maturity exceeding 30 days (issued after September 12, 2014). Moreover, another 9 entities, most of which operate in the military/defense sector but also produce goods for civilian use and which include the Kalashnikov Concern, which had earlier been targeted by U.S. SDN-type sanctions, are also targeted by this round of EU sanctions. Pursuant to the regulation and the specific provision therein to which these entities are subject, EU persons or persons within the EU may not provide or manufacture or provide technical assistance or services related to certain goods and technologies (with dual-use capabilities) to these entities; in addition, EU persons or persons within the EU are restricted from financing or providing financial assistance in relation to these prohibited goods and technologies.

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2014 also goes into force on this day, imposing blocking sanctions on an additional 24 individuals, including on, most notably, Alexander Zakharchenko, who replaced Alexander Borodai as Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

November 29, 2014 (EU)

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1270/2014 goes into force, imposing blocking sanctions on 13 individuals and 5 entities. All individuals and entities targeted by this round of EU sanctions are tied to the separatist movements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

December 18, 2014 (U.S.)

The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (UFSA/H.R. 5859) is signed into law by President Obama. The UFSA provides the U.S. president with a menu of nine different types of sanctions (e.g. revocation of visas; prohibition of the exportation or provision of a defense article or service to the targeted entity, etc.) that the President may apply to persons operating in the Russian defense and energy sectors. In respect to the energy sector, the President may, 45 days after the entry into force of the UFSA, apply three or more sanctions from the menu (of 9 different options) against a “foreign person” (i.e. a non-U.S. national) if it makes what is considered a “significant investment” in a special Russian crude oil project (i.e. in a project in an exclusive economic zone in Russia in waters more than 500 feet deep, or in Russian arctic offshore locations, or in shale formations located in Russia). The President is further authorized to impose additional licensing requirements on the export and re-export of goods to and for the Russian energy sector, as well as impose additional sanctions on Gazprom (it is already designated with SSI, Directive 4-type sanctions) if it is determined that Gazprom is withholding gas supplies from NATO countries or from Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova. The President, however, is directed by UFSA to impose at least three sanctions from the menu against Rosoboronexport within 30 days of UFSA’s entry into force; and within 45 days impose another three sanctions against a foreign person that the President determines is controlled by the Russian government or by Russian nationals that are engaged in the provision of defense-related articles to Syria or into a “specified country” without the consent of the internationally recognized government of such country. The term “specified country” in the context of this Act can mean Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova, or any other country that the President deems is of concern. Although directed to impose these sanctions, the President is given a number of means by which he may avoid doing so. So far, no sanctions have been imposed as a result of this Act.

The UFSA also gives the President the authorization to impose certain sanctions on foreign financial institutions that act on significant transactions on behalf of an entity subject to the aforementioned energy- and defense-related sanctions. Moreover, the President may also apply sanctions on foreign financial institutions that facilitate financial transactions for entities and individuals who have been placed on the SDN list by OFAC.

December 18, 2014 (EU)

Council Regulation (EU) 1351/2014 goes into force, once again amending Council Regulation (EU) 692/2014 (in force since June 23, 2014) to impose more measures on restricting trade between the EU and Crimea. Specifically, new provisions are introduced by which all foreign investment in the Crimean peninsula is banned and restrictions on the export to Crimea of goods and technologies to the sectors of transport, telecommunications, energy and exploitation of oil, gas and minerals, broadened.

December 19, 2014 (U.S.)

OFAC designates another 17 individuals and 7 entities to the SDN List. All individuals and entities blocked by OFAC in this round of U.S. sanctions have ties to, or are directly involved in, the separatist movements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and include individuals such as Alexander Zakharchenko and businessman Konstantin Malofeyev, who was targeted for financing separatist activities in eastern Ukraine and for being one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea.

However, the most notable act on this day was the entry into force of Executive Order 13685, which effectively placed a U.S. trade embargo on the Crimean peninsula. According to the E.O., U.S. persons, wherever located, are prohibited from investing in the Crimea region, importing goods, services or technology from Crimea, exporting, re-exporting, selling, or supplying goods, services or technology to Crimea, and financing or facilitating transactions by foreign persons where such transaction would otherwise be prohibited by this E.O. if carried out by a U.S. person. While the trade embargo is broad and comprehensive – certainly more so than the EU’s – U.S. persons can still obtain a license to continue exporting certain agricultural goods and medicines to, or make remittances to family members on, the peninsula. Moreover, although the provision of many online services (both free and paid) provided by U.S. companies were stopped once the embargo went into effect, the U.S. government – specifically OFAC in conjunction with the Department of Commerce – recently introduced a loophole allowing for U.S. companies to continue providing Crimean citizens with online services that are “widely available to the public at no cost to the user (i.e. blogging, email, photo-sharing, and social media services).”

February 16, 2015 (EU)

Council Implementing Regulation 2015/240 enters into force, imposing blocking-type sanctions on another 19 individuals and 9 entities, all of which are engaged or have ties with the separatist movements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

March 11, 2015 (U.S.)

OFAC adds another 14 individuals and 2 entities to the SDN List, all of them either involved in the misappropriation of Ukraine’s state assets, the annexation of Crimea by Russia or separatist activities in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Of significant note on the list is Russian National Commercial Bank, which had been targeted for blocking-type sanctions by the EU back in July 2014.

What’s next?

The question of whether additional sanctions may be imposed, or whether the current ones will remain as they are, depend on what is happening on the ground in Ukraine and is therefore very hard to predict. The exception to this, however, is the U.S./EU trade embargo on Crimea, which will likely remain in place so long as Russia holds on to the peninsula or until Ukraine forfeits its claim.

In January 2015, the EU agreed to extend its blocking-type sanctions until September 2015 (when their extension will be reviewed again) and at a summit in March 2015, agreed that its sectoral sanctions would remain in place until all objectives of the Minsk II Agreement have been successfully implemented (i.e. until December 31, 2015 by which date Ukraine should have full control over its border and have passed a new constitution). However, the EU community, which is far more exposed to the Russian economy and market than the U.S., has become increasingly divided on the issue of sanctions, withGreece and Hungary – the latter of which relying nearly entirely on Russia for oil and gas – recently becoming more vocal in their opposition to them. Cyprus, which in February 2015 re-signed a bilateral military agreement allowing Russian naval vessels to dock in Cypriot ports for refuel and maintenance, has also been vocally critical of EU sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin seems to be playing on this split with its recent announcement that it may allow certain firms from Greece, Hungary, and Cyprus to export to Russia otherwise banned produce, while maintaining in place its wide-ranging ban on food imports from the EU, United States, Norway, Canada, and Australia.

The U.S., while not as ambivalent on sanctions as the EU, has shown reluctance to escalate them, most notably exemplified by President Obama, who, when signing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, stated that he “does not intend to impose sanctions under this law.” Moreover, in a recent visit to Sochi, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that the U.S. and EU would consider rolling back their respective sanctions (except for those dealing with the annexation of Crimea) if the Minsk II Agreement was implemented in a timely fashion. The success of the Minsk II Agreement, which is very much in doubt by all parties to this conflict, has therefore become the major factor in whether the U.S. and EU will continue and/or escalate their sanctions policies in respect of Russia.

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