On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13685, which further limits commercial transactions and blocks the property and interest in property of certain persons associated with the Russian occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. The Order announced additional steps that further prohibit new investment in the Crimea region of the Ukraine; prohibit importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services or technology from the Crimea region of the Ukraine; prohibit the exportation, re-exportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, services or technology to the Crimea region of the Ukraine; and prohibit any approval, financing facilitation or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by the Executive Order if performed by a United States person or in the United States.

The Executive Order also contains a blocking section that covers all property and interests in property that are in the United States or come within the United States, or that are or that come within the possession or control of any United States person (including foreign branches) of certain persons to be identified by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State (refer to Federal Register Vol. 79, No. 247, December 24, 2014, pages 77357-77359).

The prohibitions of the Executive Order went into effect at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 19, 2014.

On December 30, 2014, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued General License No. 5, which carves out limited exceptions to the Executive Order. Particularly, General License No. 5 intends to permit certain authorized activities relating to the winding down of activities that otherwise would be in violation of Executive Order 13685 (permitted transactions that were in effect prior to December 20, 2014) involving operations, contracts or agreements involving exportation, re-exportation, sale or supply of goods, services or technology to the Crimea region of Ukraine; and the winding down or divestiture or transfer to a foreign person of a U.S. person's share of ownership, including an equity interest, in pre-December 20, 2014, investment located in the Crimea region of the Ukraine.

General License No. 5 also permits winding down and completion of pre-December 20, 2014, transactions covering the importation of any goods, services or technology from the Crimea region of Ukraine into the United States. It appears that the provisions of General License No. 5 pertaining to importation into the United States have a definitive sunset that authorizes the activities identified in Section(a) item(3). That provision notes that the identified activities are "authorized through 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, February 1, 2015."

Importers that may be affected by the Executive Order and seek to avail themselves of the limited benefits of General License No. 5 should take note of this date and time limitation regarding "importation." It is unknown what definition of "importation" is applicable for U.S. Customs purposes (date of importation is defined in 19 CFR 101.1).