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U.S. Department of Commerce to Expand Restrictions on Exports to Russia in Response to Chemical Weapons Poisoning


The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) will expand export restrictions on Russia pursuant to a March 2, 2021 determination by the Secretary of State that the Government of Russia has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals.

The Department of Commerce released the following statement:

“By deploying illegal nerve agents against dissidents, both inside and outside its borders, the Russian government has acted in flagrant violation of its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention and has directly put its own citizens and those of other countries at mortal risk. The Department of Commerce is committed to preventing Russia from accessing sensitive U.S. technologies that might be diverted to its malign chemical weapons activities.”


On March 4, 2018, the Russia Government deployed a Novichok nerve agent in an attack against former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom. In response, the U.S. Government imposed two sets of sanctions against Russia pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) in August 2018 and August 2019. On August 20, 2020, the Russian Government again deployed a Novichok nerve agent, this time against Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny, warranting a new determination by the Secretary of State and additional sanctions under the CBW Act. Consistent with the Secretary of State’s March 2, 2021 determination, and the imposition, effective March 18, 2021, of new sanctions, BIS will review license applications under a presumption of denial for exports and reexports of items controlled for national security reasons (NS items) that are destined for Russia. Effective March 18, 2021, BIS will also suspend License Exceptions Servicing and Replacement Parts and Equipment (RPL), Technology and Software Unrestricted (TSU), and Additional Permissive Reexports (APR) for NS items destined for Russia.

However, certain categories of exports and reexports will be permitted pursuant to a partial waiver of the application of the sanctions on national security grounds that will allow exports and reexports to Russia of NS items made under License Exceptions Temporary Imports, Exports, Reexports, and Transfers (TMP); Governments, International Organizations, International Inspections under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the International Space Station (GOV); Baggage (BAG); Aircraft, Vessels and Spacecraft (AVS), and Encryption Commodities, Software, and Technology (ENC).

This partial waiver will also apply to the licensing of certain categories of export and reexport transactions involving NS items. License applications for such transactions will be reviewed consistent with Export Administration Regulations (EAR) export licensing policy for Russia prior to enactment of these restrictions. These categories are as follows: items necessary for the safety of flight of civil fixed-wing passenger aviation; deemed exports and reexports to Russian nationals; items destined for wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries and other foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies that are located in Russia; and items in support of government space cooperation. This partial waiver will also apply until September 1, 2021 to items in support of commercial space launch activities; following this date, applications for such items will be reviewed under a presumption of denial.

For more information, visit www.bis.doc.gov. visit www.bis.doc.gov.

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