Earlier in the day, the US Treasury issued a license permitting certain transactions with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which has been sanctioned over alleged interference into the 2016 US presidential election. The Treasury specified that payments of any fees to the FSB for the received permits and licenses should not exceed $5,000 per year.
The Treasury Department also authorized transactions and activities necessary to comply with law enforcement actions or investigations involving the FSB.
“We’re not easing sanctions,” Spicer told reporters. “It is, from what I understand, a regular course of action that Treasury does quite often when sanctions are imposed.”
On December 30, then-US President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against several Russian organizations, including the FSB, and individuals in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged hacking into US political institutions. Washington is expelling 35 Russian diplomats on spying charges and is closing down two Russian-owned compounds in the US.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied the US allegations of election interference, characterizing them as absurd and laughable nonsense. Moreover, they have said such allegations are intended to deflect US public attention from revelations of corruption and other pressing domestic concerns.