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The US Imposes New Sanctions on Russia: Executive Order Targeting the Harmful Foreign Activities of the Russian Government

  • United Kingdom
  • Fraud and financial crime
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Sanctions


On 15 April 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Blocking Property with Respect to Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation, which imposed new United States sanctions on Russia. The executive order’s stated aim is to deter Russia from interfering in democratic elections and institutions, engaging in malicious cyber activities, using transnational corruption to influence foreign governments, targeting dissidents or journalists extraterritorially, undermining security in countries and regions important to US national security, and violating international law.

What are the new sanctions?

The new sanctions target Russian sovereign debt, technology companies supporting Russian intelligence services, individuals and entities associated with Russia’s occupation and repression in Crimea, and Russian malicious cyber actors.

Pursuant to the executive order, Treasury issued a directive to prohibit US financial institutions from engaging with the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after 14 June 2021 by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. It also prohibits US financial institutions from lending ruble or non-ruble nominated funds to those three entities after that date.

Furthermore, six Russian technology companies that provide support to the Russian Intelligence Services’ cyber programme have been designated, as have eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s ongoing actions in Crimea. A further 32 entities and individuals have been designated for their involvement in disinformation and interference, including Russian government-directed attempts to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election.

This executive order imposes a block on the newly designated individuals’ and entities’ assets, a prohibition on making funds available to them, and a travel ban on them entering the US. Any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by one or more designated persons are also blocked.

In addition, the US is expelling ten Russian diplomatic personnel from Washington, DC.

Why have they been implemented?

This new round of sanctions has been implemented in response to several different issues, including reports that Russia attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election and the SolarWinds campaign of cyber espionage.

Notably, the White House clarified that reports that Russia issued so-called ‘bounties’ to encourage the Taliban to attack US and coalition personnel in Afghanistan are being handled through diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels, rather than through this latest round of sanctions.