Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined a letter Jan. 30, 2017, led by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing concern that six months after Congress overwhelmingly passed mandatory sanctions measures to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing activities against our country and nations around the world, the Trump administration imposed no new sanctions.

President Donald Trump signed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act into law in August 2017 after both the House and Senate nearly unanimously passed the legislation.

“This is unacceptable,” wrote the senators. “By imposing no new sanctions under CAATSA mandates, the U.S. remains vulnerable to an emboldened Russian government in advance of this November’s congressional elections.”

Jan. 29 was a date mandated in the law, Section 231, for the administration to report to Congress on sanctions designations for foreign countries or their entities who do business with certain Russian defense and intelligence sector elements. The administration announced there would be no sanctions impositions at this time.

“While there is deterrent value in Section 231, it is only effective if potential targets believe that the threat of sanctions is genuine. Yesterday’s statement by the state department unfortunately fell short of sending a strong signal that the U.S. is fully prepared to impose these secondary sanctions in the vent of a violation,” wrote the senators.

In their letter, the senators also point out that beyond the defense and intelligence sectors, the administration has not imposed any new sanctions under the other CAATSA mandatory provisions, such as in the areas of cybersecurity, human rights, crude oil and foreign financial institutions, among others.

“[T]his magnifies a concern that the Trump administration’s policies on Russia do not fully reflect the clear congressional intent described in the legislation,” wrote the senators.

The full letter is available at