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Response to We the People Petition on Russia

Thank you for your petition.

The Secretary of State has the authority to determine which countries have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism and so designate them as "state sponsors of terrorism" pursuant to three laws: Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include: restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Currently, four countries are so designated: Syria, Cuba, Iran, and Sudan.

We remain deeply concerned by Russia's continuing destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine and its ongoing failure to fulfill the commitments to which it agreed in Minsk. We are also very concerned that, according to a U.N. report published in mid-November, Russia's noncompliance and ongoing aggressive actions continue to result in fatalities -- military and civilian -- in eastern Ukraine, with an average of 13 per day.

In response to Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine, including its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, the United States and its international partners have imposed sanctions in Russia's financial, energy, and defense sectors. Dozens of senior Russian officials, members of President Putin's inner circle, and other individuals materially or financially supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence are now subject to asset freezes and travel bans. The United States and our G-7 partners are no longer supporting development finance for Russia.

We have repeatedly made it clear that President Putin has a choice. If he is willing to find a lasting settlement to the conflict within the context of the Minsk agreements and without setting unreasonable conditions, sanctions could be rolled back. If Russia continues to flout its commitments and continues its dangerous and destabilizing actions, then the costs to Russia will continue to rise.
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We adopted two wonderful children from Russia in 2003. Our now twelve year old son, who was three at the time, was in an orphanage in a very rural area that was in a run-down condition. My son had very bad abandonment issues as he remembered his mother dropping him off at the orphanage when he was 2 years old. It has taken him many years to slowly recover from the feelings of abandonment. He is currently well adjusted, does very well in school and has proven to be a good athlete. He is also a very caring person who has an “old soul”.
Our daughter was 10 months old when we adopted her from a different orphanage but at the same time as my son. This orphanage was in a very poor area—the toilet was a hole in the floor. It was recommended by doctors who reviewed her medical history that we not adopt her because she was very small for her age especially the size of her head. After seeing her, we could not imagine not adopting her, so we did. My daughter's head size was at the zero percentile. Her arms and legs were called "limp noodles" by the Russian doctor who examined her before we left Russia. My daughter had basically been left in a crib for all ten months that she was at the orphanage and had developed no muscle tone. When we first were able to take our daughter to our hotel room before leaving Russia, she drank 10-12 bottles of formula per day as she had been starving as well.
After physical therapy and intense speech therapy for the past 7 years, (because even her facial muscles had not been developed to be able to create words) our now ten year old daughter is physically in great shape. She plays all types of sports and was an all-star on her soccer team. She has been behind in school all along due to her delayed speech and language skills but has been catching up year by year due to the great programs that we have taken advantage of in Fairfax County schools.

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