July 14, 2022

Treasury clarifies effect of Russia sanctions on the movement of agricultural commodities and medicines

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury has published a fact sheet entitled “Russia Sanctions and Agricultural Trade” to clarify that sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine do not restrict the production, manufacturing, sale, or transport of agricultural commodities or medicines.  The fact sheet supplements an earlier informational publication, “Preserving Agricultural Trade, Access to Communication, and Other Support to Those Impacted by Russia’s War Against Ukraine (April 19, 2022).”  OFAC has also issued General License 6B to authorize certain transactions that might otherwise be prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations (RuHSR).

Today’s fact sheet clarifies that US sanctions do not restrict the importation of Russian-origin fish and seafood into countries other than the United States.  Non-US persons are not exposed to sanctions for importing goods prohibited under Executive Order 14068 such as fish, seafood, alcoholic beverages, and non-industrial diamonds to jurisdictions outside of the United States, as long as the transaction does not involve a sanctioned person or otherwise prohibited activity.  The fact sheet also explains that insurance and reinsurance services related to the transportation of these goods are not prohibited, and that US financial institutions may process transactions related to the exportation of these commodities, and furthermore, the port of Novorossiysk may be used for the export of goods permitted under GL 6B or not otherwise prohibited.

The fact sheet also addresses questions about Joint Stock Company Russian Agricultural Bank, which, although not subject to blocking sanctions under the RuHSR, is subject to Directive 3 under Executive Order 14024.  Directive 3 prohibits certain transactions in new debt or new equity of the Russian Agricultural Bank by US persons or within the United States; however, GL 6B carves out a partial exception to this prohibition. 

GL 6B, which replaces and supersedes GL 6A, defines agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices as including food, live animals, seeds for food crops, and fertilizers.  It authorizes transactions related to the production, sale or transport of these items – including for medical research, diagnosis and treatment that would otherwise be prohibited by RuHSR.  GL 6B does not, however, authorize debits to accounts of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Russian Ministry of Finance to the extent these are maintained by US financial institutions; nor does it authorize transactions involving correspondent or payable-through accounts on behalf of sanctioned persons, or transactions prohibited by Executive Orders 14066, 14068, or 14071.

US Dept of the Treasury press release | Fact Sheet Gl 6B