The U.S. State Department has provided Congress with a list of Russian companies and intelligence agencies that are likely to be hit with sanctions under a new U.S. law punishing Russia for allegedly meddling in last year's presidential election.
The New York Times published on its website what it said was a copy of the list and accompanying guidance late on October 26. It included six Russian intelligence agencies as well as 33 Russian defense companies, including well-known names such as gun maker Kalashnikov, airplane manufacturers Sukhoi and Tupolev, and state weapons exporter Rosoboronexport.
According to the published document, the department in its guidance says not all the listed companies will automatically be subject to sanctions, however, and notes that some of those listed -- such as Russia's FSB and GRU intelligence services -- already have been hit by U.S. sanctions.
Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the list would be made public in the coming days, but the department is first allowing U.S. companies time to put an end to any business they are doing with the targeted firms and individuals so they can avoid running afoul of the sanctions.
"Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson has signed off on this and it is currently being held on Capitol Hill," she said.
"The department is currently informing Congress, key U.S. industries and stakeholders, and our allies and partners" about the list and accompanying guidance the department is providing to help businesses and U.S. allies avoid violating the sanctions, she said.
The sanctions law, which President Donald Trump reluctantly signed in August, targets Russia's military and intelligence services because of their alleged role in efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The law calls on the president to impose sanctions on any person or firm who engages "in a significant transaction" with the Russian defense or intelligence sectors.
But first, the law requires the Trump administration to identify companies and groups associated with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors and provide that information to Congress by an October 1 deadline.
'Good First Step'
When the department missed the deadline, lawmakers cried foul and accused the administration of dragging its feet because of Trump's opposition to elements of the sanctions law.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who had questioned the department's delay of the sanctions list, welcomed the delivery on October 26.
"The guidance provided today by the State Department is a good first step in responsibly implementing a very complex piece of legislation," he said. "Congress will expect thorough and timely consultation until full implementation is complete."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and the committee's top Democrat, Senator Ben Cardin, issued a joint statement saying the "administration’s announcement is a step in the right direction."
"By issuing guidance for the implementation of the sanctions legislation, the administration is slowly but surely carrying out the law that Congress passed overwhelmingly this summer," the statement said.
"Congress will continue to conduct oversight of each step to ensure the administration is following both the letter and the spirit of the law."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said one reason for the delay was concern about how the sanctions would affect U.S. businesses as well as U.S. allies who do business with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors.
Turkey, for example, is a NATO ally that recently made a deal with the Kremlin to buy Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Saudi Arabia, another U.S. ally, also recently struck an array of deals with Moscow, including contracts to buy Russian weapons.
Three-Month Grace Period
According to the document published by The New York Times, the guidance provided by the State Department says that the United States is supposed to work with allies to maintain unity on the question of sanctions against Russia.
"Wherever possible, the United States intends to work with our allies and partners to help them identify and avoid engaging in potentially sanctionable activity while strengthening military capabilities used for cooperative defense efforts," the document says.
Several entities listed in the document published by the New York Times have previously been targeted by U.S. sanctions. Those include Russia's main intelligence agencies, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU).
Former President Barack Obama in December imposed sanctions on entities and individuals associated with the GRU and FSB for allegedly meddling in the presidential election.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.
When the sanctions list is released to the public in the coming days, businesses and foreign countries will be given three months to wind down their transactions with targeted Russian companies and individuals, Nauert said.
The three-month grace period will expire on January 28, she said.