Trump administration eases sanctions against Russian intelligence service

Story by CNBC
Written by Jacob Pramuk

The Trump administration on Thursday eased sanctions on companies doing business with a Russian intelligence agency, despite the cyber-related sanctions the Obama administration brought in response to Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The Treasury Department said it will allow American companies to make limited transactions with the FSB, the successor to the KGB, if it needs those to get approval to import or distribute information technology products in Russia. The exception will also apply to situations in which companies need to comply with rules administered by the FSB.

The implications of the move were not immediately clear, but the U.S. has made similar moves in the past to help businesses avoid unintended consequences. White House spokesman Sean Spicer called it routine and said it was not a change in policy or easing of the sanctions.

Then-President Barack Obama in December authorized sanctions on individuals it believes were involved in the alleged efforts to meddle in the election. The White House sanctioned nine entities and individuals: two Russian intelligence agencies including the FSB, four officers of its largest intelligence agency, GRU, and three companies that supported GRU's operations.


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