The recent Russian takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea has outraged the West, with President Obama calling it a violation of international law.

The U.S. State Department announced this week that Washington is, as we speak, preparing sanctions against Moscow. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia would suffer “economic and political consequences” for its exploits, as other G-8 countries are also ready and willing to participate in the isolation of the Russian Federation. U.S. trade and economic penalties under deliberation could include action against Russian banks, visa bans and asset freezes as well as travel restrictions on individual Russians. Have you considered how this will impact your export business?

The situation in the Ukraine has been changing by the hour. Companies would be wise to start talking about the current state of affairs if they’re not doing so already. Depending on what actions Washington eventually takes, billions of dollars in two-way trade between Russia and the U.S. could be under threat. U.S. companies have close to $10 billion invested in Russia, particularly in the mining, manufacturing and banking sectors. It’s not too early to assess what economic sanctions and changes to Restricted Party Screening lists could mean to your industry and to your organization. Management and export compliance teams need to be attentive to announcements by the State Department so that when new measures are revealed, a new corrective course can be set to maintain compliance with export control laws. Nobody can predict the details of the government’s coming edicts, but there are proactive steps that can be taken to be ready for whatever comes.

  • Review current customer lists to see if there are any Russian-based entities. Decisions may have to be made about how to proceed with pending transactions
  • If up-to-the-minute Restricted/Denied Party Screening lists and regulatory information are not supplied by your compliance service provider, be prepared to do the research and updating on your own using official government sources
  • Ensure your items and technology are correctly classified (according to ECCN and ITAR rules) so that when details of new sanctions are announced, it will be easy to analyze the repercussions for your products and services
  • Some facilities – including universities and other research institutions – may be impacted due to scheduled visits or hiring plans involving Russian citizens.

With instant, 24/7 access to information, there’s no excuse to have one’s head in the sand when it comes to world events. In cases such as the crisis in the Ukraine, staying on top of the lightning-speed proceedings and how they may affect us enables us to be proactive rather than reactive. And when it comes to export compliance matters, proactivity is always the hands-down winner.