Brian O'Toole

  • Beware the Lure of Sanctions for Russia’s Latest Aggression

    It’s Monday, which means that Russia is again antagonizing its neighbors to the west. But instead of little green men, Wagner “private” security forces, or Russian regulars acting under another flag, this time the FSB—Russia’s internal security service—openly fired upon and captured three Ukrainian naval vessels attempting to traverse the Kerch Strait that separates the two countries. This is a significant escalation by Moscow of tensions that have simmered for months as Russia has harassed legitimate and important Ukrainian trade ships that traverse the disputed strait to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov. The chief dispute, of course, centers on Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and...
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  • O'Toole and Mortlock Report Quoted in Bloomberg on Sanctions


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  • Skripal and Beyond: The Post-Election Russia Sanctions Landscape

    The US State Department made an important, if expected, announcement to Congress on November 6 that it was unable to certify that Russia had met the conditions in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) necessary to stave off a second round of sanctions. The notification drew relatively little domestic coverage—coming, as it did, during the fever pitch of the US midterm elections—but it did garner an angry statement from the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, denouncing the department’s apparent lack of a timetable for imposing the next round of sanctions.

    Add Royce’s reaction to the draft bills that were simmering before the midterms recess, unease over the potential for another meeting between US President Donald J. Trump and Russian...

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  • US Sanctions: Using a Coercive and Economic Tool Effectively

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    In recent years, US economic and financial sanctions have become favored tools of US power. The centrality of the US financial system and the ubiquity of the US dollar in the global financial marketplace make sanctions a powerful tool to have on hand when confronting foreign policy challenges. The great danger is, however, that sanctions become a substitute for actual policy, rather than merely a tool of foreign policy. In “US Sanctions: Using a Coercive Economic and Financial Tool Effectively” authors David Mortlock and Brian O’Toole, who are both senior fellows at the Atlantic...

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  • A Look at the Implications of Reimposed US Sanctions on Iran

    US President Donald J. Trump’s administration will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s central bank, oil sales, and shipping companies on November 5. These sanctions, the last of those the US lifted in 2016 as a consequence of the Iran nuclear deal, are likely to be coupled with new sanctions that are designed to achieve greater pressure than what the Obama administration imposed on Iran to enter negotiations over its nuclear program. 

    The sanctions that snap back into place on November 5 largely mirror those that the Obama administration lifted in January 2016. While fewer in numbers than those reimposed on August 6 by Executive Order (EO) 13846 issued by Trump, they are among the most powerful as they expand the primary blocking sanctions available for US designations and represent the bulk of the secondary sanctions on Iran. 

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  • A Look at the Implications of Reimposed US Sanctions on Iran

    US President Donald J. Trump’s administration will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s central bank, oil sales, and shipping companies on November 5. These sanctions, the last of those the US lifted in 2016 as a consequence of the Iran nuclear deal, are likely to be coupled with new sanctions that are designed to achieve greater pressure than what the Obama administration imposed on Iran to enter negotiations over its nuclear program.

    The sanctions that snap back into place on November 5 largely mirror those that the Obama administration lifted in January 2016. While fewer in numbers than those reimposed on August 6 by Executive Order (EO) 13846 issued by Trump, they are among the most powerful as they expand the primary blocking sanctions available for US designations and represent the bulk of the secondary sanctions on Iran.

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  • O'Toole Quoted in MarketWatch on Treasury Extends Deadline for Deripaska


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  • O'Toole Joins i24 News to Discuss U.S. Sanctions on Russia and China


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  • O'Toole Quoted in Newsweek on CAATSA


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  • Trump’s Election Meddling Sanctions Will Not Deter Russia

    US President Donald J. Trump on September 12 issued a new executive order (EO) authorizing sanctions in response to interference in US elections, likely as an attempt to stave off two bipartisan bills circulating in the Senate that would mandate significant sanctions against Russia. The EO is a mixed bag; it directs cabinet officials to produce reports on interference following every US federal election—a good step toward showing seriousness—but the sanctions in the EO do not substantially change the status quo, especially from the perspective of providing an effective deterrent to Russian aggression. 

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