The Treasury Department said Thursday it will allow for some companies to do limited business with Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB.
The move is a minor easing of a sanction put in place at the end of the Obama administration that limits business to $5,000 for any calendar year.
A top State Department official said the move was made as a technical fix to the sanctions that were put in place to avoid “unintended consequences” of US government business with Russia.
The White House said Thursday it was not easing sanctions of Russia, calling the move a routine adjustment.
“We’re not easing sanctions,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer during his daily briefing. “From what I understand it’s a fairly common practice for the Treasury Department, after sanctions are in place, to go back and look at whether or not there needs to be specific carve-outs for different industries or products or services.”
He said the move didn’t reflect a shift in policy, but rather a “regular course of action.”
The fix was in the works soon after the sanctions were put in place because FSB is also involved in customs and border checks on trade. The sanctions had the unintended consequence of preventing US businesses from being able to pay some necessary trade-related costs to the Russian government.
US intelligence agencies accused the FSB of being involved in the election-related hacking last year.
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.