Samantha Sultoon

  • Trump’s New Cuba Policy Threatens to Reignite Historic Disagreement With Key Allies

    The Trump administration broke another policy precedent with its March 4 decision to activate a decades-old US law on Cuba, ostensibly to punish Cuba for propping up Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela and for its ongoing suppression of human rights, as well as to put additional pressure on Maduro to step down. The unilateral policy decision threatens to further antagonize key US allies, particularly the European Union (EU) and Canada—both of whom have otherwise been largely consistent with the Trump administration on Venezuela policy—while likely stopping short of achieving the desired impacts on Havana and Caracas.

    For the first time since enactment of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (...
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  • Buy-In From Allies Critical for Effective Sanctions, Says Former US Treasury Secretary Lew

    US approaches to Iran and Venezuela provide a study in contrasts

    While the Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran will be ineffective because the United States does not “have the support of our allies,” its approach to Venezuela—working in concert with friends—“represents more the way things ought to be done,” former US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 19.

    As the Trump administration and the US Congress increasingly view sanctions as effective means to achieve the United States’ foreign policy objectives, Lew, who also served as White House chief of staff to then President Barack Obama, had some advice: “Sanctions are most effective when there is broad buy-in around the world amongst our allies.”


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  • New Legislation Presents Impactful But Measured Way Forward on Russia Sanctions

    Driven by understandable distrust of US President Donald Trump’s continued relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a bipartisan group of US senators have introduced legislation that, if passed, compels the Trump administration to increase the pressure on Moscow. The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019, or DASKAA, is a revisited, and improved version of the similarly named bill that was introduced in response to Trump’s widely panned July 2018 summit with Putin in Helsinki. Several additional Russian-related outrages later, this bill introduced by Senators Graham, Menendez, Cardin, Gardner, and Shaheen likely has a better chance of becoming law than its predecessor, which languished in a Congress distracted by a Supreme Court fight, the summer recess, a competing Russia sanctions bill, and the pre-election

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  • Sultoon Quoted in National Journal on Khashoggi Case


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  • New Venezuela Sanctions Need Timely Results

    On January 28, the Trump administration again turned to sanctions to ratchet up pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro to step down.

    The new sanctions measures severely limit key US revenue streams for PdVSA—Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company—by mandating that any money intended for PdVSA be deposited into blocked accounts, accessible only with authorization from the Trump administration. While PdVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, may continue to purchase and import petroleum products (at least until July 27), all payments must also be made into a US-based blocked account. Should that authorization expire, the result will effectively be a US oil embargo affecting a major source of crude oil for the southern United States. Further, the sanctions ...
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  • Memo to Congress: Treasury’s Plan to Lift Sanctions on Russian Oligarch’s Companies is a Good One

    US lawmakers must not allow understandable concerns about US President Donald J. Trump’s views of Russia to overshadow the technical merits of the administration’s divestiture plan to remove sanctions on aluminum giant Rusal and two other companies—EN+ and EuroSibEnergo, or ESE—sanctioned for their ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. After months of negotiations, Treasury officials have arrived at a delisting arrangement worthy of careful consideration and approval.


    US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s January 10 congressional briefing on the details of the administration’s divestiture plan,  and the ongoing attention to this issue, sharpens the debate on whether the Rusal delisting is the appropriate action and whether Congress ought to exercise its authority under the Countering America’s Adversaries

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  • Sultoon in The Hill: Don’t prematurely ease the pressure on North Korea


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  • Sultoon Quoted in Bloomberg on US Penalties against Viktor Vekselberg


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  • Trump Administration's New Nicaragua Sanctions Strategically Target the Top

    After US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned the “troika of tyranny”—Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—of forthcoming action earlier in November, it was only a matter of time before the Trump administration escalated its response to the violent repression this spring of anti-government demonstrators and the continued erosion of democratic institutions in Nicaragua. The announcement by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on November 27 of a new sanctions regime targeting Daniel Ortega’s administration and its supporters was a delayed but targeted way of increasing pressure on the Nicaraguan president and his cronies.

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  • Global Magnitsky Sanctions: Raising the Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Bar

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    The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi thrust an otherwise little-known sanctions program into the spotlight—the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (or GloMag in sanctions parlance). On November 15, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control used the GloMag authority to designate seventeen Saudi citizens for their role in the Khashoggi killing. In “Global Magnitsky Sanctions: Raising the Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Bar” author Samantha Sultoon, a visiting senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Business &...

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