Kremlin says it's trying to get ahead of sanctions

Washington in November amended Russian sanctions with respect to its energy sector.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Dec. 20, 2017 at 7:58 AM
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Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Kremlin is working to figure out ways to maneuver around possible sanctions that could restrict Russia's business opportunities, a spokesman said.

Russia's currency lost considerable value at the start of last year and the broader economy faced dual strains from lower crude oil prices and economic sanctions imposed after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control in early November amended Russian sanctions with respect to the energy sector, blocking U.S. entities from helping with companies with "the potential" to produce oil in Russian territory or shale projects anywhere in the world. The amended list makes reference to projects "initiated on or after Jan. 29."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying the government was trying to figure out ways to maneuver around any new or extended sanctions.

"Moscow is developing and assuming measures protecting our interests amid possible extension of sanctions by various countries, which we still consider to be unlawful," he said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said the sanctions are nothing new. The Kremlin said the sanctions are part of U.S. efforts to push deeper into the European energy sector.

While Peskov made no direct reference to a particular country, the Kremlin has accused Washington of using sanctions as a way to increase U.S. energy leverage in Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington was using its newfound energy abundance for strategic purposes "on the pretext of fighting against a Russian threat."

The U.S. State Department in October published a list of 39 sanctioned Russian companies and government entities, most of which had ties to defense and intelligence. The list was a result of legislation signed in August by President Donald Trump.

Trump in his signing statement from August expressed reservations about the bill's impact, saying it encroached on his authority and would harm U.S. interests as they relate to Russian diplomacy and outreach with European allies.

The National Security Strategy for the Trump administration names China and Russia as threats to U.S. political and economic authority.

"They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence," the strategy reads.

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