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24 Mar, 2022 22:23

American journalists exempted from Russia sanctions

New rules allow US media to operate in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk despite anti-Russia sanctions
American journalists exempted from Russia sanctions

American media organizations seeking to operate in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, which are described as “regions of Ukraine,” are allowed to do so under certain conditions, the US Treasury Department announced on Thursday in guidelines issued to clarify sanctions against Russia.

However, Kiev itself only permits entry through its own border checkpoints, which is not practical at present. The Ukrainian authorities consider access from Russia to be a breach of immigration rules. 

According to the document called General License 25, news reporting organizations and their employees, considered to be US persons, are allowed to engage in transactions deemed “necessary to their journalistic activities” in the areas concerned, the Treasury said. 

Media organizations can remunerate their American and local staff, lease office space, pay for cell phones and satellite uplinks and news feeds, honor any sales or employment taxes involved, and even purchase necessary equipment, so long as it’s taken back to the US or another country when it’s no longer needed, the Treasury memo said.

The conditions apply to the “Crimea region of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) or Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) regions of Ukraine, or such other regions of Ukraine as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury,” according to the memo.

Though the US considers all three Ukrainian territory,  Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014, while Moscow recognized the Donbass republics as independent in February.

In further general license memos, the US also allowed transactions “necessary for the activities of diplomatic missions of third countries located in the Russian Federation” and extended the deadline for wrapping up transactions related to imports of seafood from Russia until June 23.

The US and its NATO allies embargoed Russia after Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and end the conflict with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia ended up recognizing the two as independent states, at which point they asked for military aid.

Russia demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two Donbass republics by force.