February 02, 2017

The Wrong Move on Russia Sanctions Could Have Dire Consequences for the U.S.

By Elizabeth Rosenberg

President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested he would consider removing U.S. sanctions on Russia in order to improve ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department made a small tweak to the sanctions currently in place, issuing a license permitting U.S. firms to work with the Russian Federal Security Service to restart sales of encryption technology to Russia. In the scheme of U.S. sanctions, the change was small, but hopefully not the beginning of a much larger unraveling. The Trump administration would risk U.S. credibility and crucial alliances with security partners if it were to lift the powerful economic sanctions on Russia that target its territorial aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine without Russia first fulfilling Minsk deal, a protocol meant to pave the way towards peace.

As a former senior official at the Treasury Department, the agency that crafts and enforces sanctions, I know firsthand how powerful sanctions can be as a national security tool. I’m also keenly aware of how damaging a change in course on sanctions — out of step with close international allies or without a strong basis of support from Congress — could be to U.S. foreign policy. If Trump were to enact such a change, he would make any future U.S. sanctions less credible, available, and powerful.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.