President Trump is declining to implement bipartisan and newly authorized sanctions on Russia because the law is already “serving as a deterrent.”
“Given the long timeframes generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent. From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” a spokesperson for the State Department said.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) allows the president to postpone imposing sanctions on people or entities if he determines they are largely scaling back their transactions with Russia’s military, as long as he notifies Congress at least every 180 days.
The Hill added:
If Trump didn’t opt to delay, he would have to impose at least five sanctions on those that knowingly conduct significant transactions with Russia.
Trump signed CAATSA into law in August despite his initial protest over the “flawed legislation,” which was overwhelmingly passed through Congress in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The law also limits Trump’s ability to lift prior sanctions or return diplomatic compounds seized from Russia under the Obama administration.
The president, who sought to change CAATSA while it was being written, sharply criticized the law while signing it in August.
“By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together,” Trump said in a statement at the time.
“Since the enactment of the CAATSA legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
If sanctions are issued, they will “primarily be on non-Russian entities that are responsible for significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sector,” the spokesperson said.