WASHINGTON -- The United States is quietly blocking exports of sensitive dual-use materials and technologies to Russia, an apparent response to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, which oversees sensitive exports, especially to U.S. rivals, revealed earlier this week that it is refusing to issue licenses for sales of goods.
A terse statement on its website reads:
"Since March 1, 2014, BIS has placed a hold on the issuance of licenses that would authorize the export or re-export of items to Russia. BIS will continue this practice until further notice."
The State Department said its parallel agency, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, has since Monday also put a halt on licensing of the export of defense-related goods and services to Russia.
"We've been taking steps as part of our ongoing response [to Russia's actions in Ukraine]," said Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. "The State Department will continue to hold until further notice."
The moves came in the wake of the White House announcing sanctions on Russia earlier this month, including asset freezes and visa bans on top officials in the Russian government and several tycoons close to President Vladimir Putin.
The Commerce Department action affects a significant level of U.S. exports.
Last year, the BIS approved nearly $1.5 billion in sales to Russia, triple the level of the previous year.
The goods regulated by the agency include police and military gear and hardware, toxic chemicals, explosives detonators, various electronics and software, and other sensitive equipment and materials.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014