Obama hits Trump with new Russian sanctions and Arctic drilling ban

Outgoing US President Barack  Obama this week did his best  to thwart his successor Donald Trump’s plans  to improve relations with Moscow and to increase  US oil and gas production by extending the sanctions imposed on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea while almost simultaneously withdrawing hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from the reach of new offshore oil and gas drilling projects.
The new sanctions announced by the US Treasury include six executives of Rossiya Bank that it has described as “the personal bank for officials of the Russian Federation” and its ABR Management and Sobinbank, among them Kirill Kvalchuk, nephew of Yuri Kovalchuk who is a major shareholder in the bank and who is already on the proscribed list. 
The U.S. Treasury also imposed sanctions on  several companies and government enterprises for operating in Crimea, including two Russian firms it says are helping to build a multi-billion dollar bridge to link the Russian mainland with the peninsula, a flagship project of the Putin administration.
Although the White House denied that  the new sanctions were in any way related to Trump’s avowed desire  to precipitate a thaw in relations between Moscow and Washington, their imposition in the dying days of the Obama administration suggests otherwise, as does his move to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia just days after Trump appointed Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State.
While the new moratorium has been welcomed by environmentalists, it will have not have escaped either Trump’s or Tillerson’s notice that the inclusion of the Atlantic canyons puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.
Senior Obama administration officials were eager to stress that there is no provision in the law for the moratorium to be repealed by a future President. The same cannot be said of  the sanctions.

Source: Gazeta