US senators propose ‘Azov sanctions’ bill against Russia

On Wednesday, a group of US senators put forward a bill that envisages additional sanctions against Russia in response to “Russian interference in the operation of democratic institutes abroad” and for its aggression in Ukraine. 

According to a statement published by the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, the document was authored by republicans Lindsey Graham and Cory Gardner and democrats Bob Menendez, Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen. 

The list of sanctions proposed by the senators has two parts. The first includes sanctions for Russia’s “interference in democratic institutes abroad”. The sanctions will target “the Russian banks that support Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic institutes in other countries”. In addition, the senators consider it necessary to introduce sanctions that target Russia’s international liquefied natural gas projects abroad, as well as sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. 

The senators also propose to place sanctions on Russia’s cyber sector. These will also include sanctions against Russian “political figures, oligarchs and their family members, as well as other entities that facilitate illegal and corrupt activities”. 

The other part of the sanctions concern Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. In this regard, the senators suggest that sanctions be imposed on “24 FSB employees who are believed to have been involved” in the capture of Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait. 

In response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the senators propose to impose restrictive measures on Russia’s ship construction sector “in the event that Russia infringes freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait”. 

This section of the bill includes sanctions related to “the support of oil resource utilization within Russia” and sanctions on Russian government energy projects outside the country. 

Both the US and the EU are considering sanctions against Russia due to its detention of the sailors. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that the US will not negotiate with Russia until the Ukrainian sailors have been released. 

On 25 November, Russia forcefully captured the Ukrainian military boats the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the tugboat “Yana Kapy” in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were arrested, accused of violating the Russian state border, and transferred to Moscow.

  USA, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Kerch Strait, US Senate