Politics

Trump's First Move on Russia Has Some Concerned

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced it will be easing specific sanctions on Russia, allowing U.S. companies to sell cyber security equipment to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), according to USA Today.

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"I'm not easing anything," Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

The Treasury Department called it "technical fix," according to Reuters, though others worried what would happen if sanctions were loosened further. From Foreign Policy:

"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."

Former President Obama leveed sanctions against Russia's intelligence agencies in December of 2016 in response to alleged election meddling. The CIA and FBI stated they have reason to believe that Russia was involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. The Treasury Department's decision rolls back part of Obama's more recent sanctions.

The Obama administration also issued sweeping sanctions on Russia in 2014 following Russia's annexing for Crimea, and it is unclear if the 2014 sanctions will be lifted. That said, Trump has said he's open to lifting the sanctions, and his recently sworn in secretary of state opposed the sanctions in 2014 when he was CEO of Exxon.