The Trump administration slapped additional sanctions on dozens of individuals and companies tied to Russia’s slow-burning proxy war in Ukraine on Tuesday. The move could be a relief to many who worried Trump would renege on U.S. commitments to Europe to repairs ties with Russia.
The sanctions target 38 new individuals and organizations U.S. officials say are responsible for tightening the Kremlin’s grip over eastern Ukraine as Washington and its European allies push for a diplomatic solution to the country’s three year-long conflict. They’re designed to “maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Tuesday.
The move is conspicuous for an administration that has bucked international norms. U.S. allies and outgoing U.S. officials feared for months Trump would upend traditional commitments to Europe and sell Ukraine down the river for a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he lavished with praised during the U.s. presidential campaign. But the new sanctions list could dispel some of those fears by falling in line with former President Barack Obama’s approach to Russia.
“The Trump administration deserves some credit both for the timing and for the substance of these sanctions,” said Daniel Fried, America’s longest-serving diplomat and State Department coordinator for sanctions policy up until his retirement several months ago. “This is not a softball list. Nobody tried to water it down. There’s too much good stuff in here.”
“It looks like a list that would have come out under the last administration,” said Sean Kane, an international trade and sanctions expert at Hughes Hubbard & Reed law firm.
And the timing couldn’t be better. For starters, they’re in the wake of the European Union’s new agreement to extend sanctions against Russia for another year, signaling transatlantic solidarity — something that appears to be a rare commodity…