Treasury loosens restrictions on Russia’s FSB as Spicer denies it’s a sanction reduction

A new Treasury Department regulation would allow information-technology exports to Russia’s intelligence agency, a move the White House spokesman denied was tied to a loosening of sanctions against the country.

The U.S.’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, in what’s called a general license, said it will now permit IT exports to the FSB — a successor organization to the KGB identified in English as the Federal Security Service — that don’t exceed $5,000 per year. Exports still aren’t allowed to the Crimea region of Ukraine, which Russia has claimed as its own.

Treasury didn’t immediately offer a comment, but White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the move did not signal an easing of sanctions against the country. “We are not easing sanctions against Russia,” Spicer said.

He said the Treasury Department often goes back and carves out certain industries. “It is a regular course of action that Treasury does quite often when there are sanctions imposed.”