Donald Trump
31 January: US President Donald Trump walks through the White House's Cross Hall to the East Room to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court Brendan Smialowski/AFP

President Donald Trump has begun rolling back sanctions against Russia's domestic FSB intelligence service for cyber espionage that were imposed by his predecessor Barack Obama late last year.

Obama's sanctions came in response to US intelligence agency findings that Russia hacked US political parties to influenced the American election.

A US Treasury note released on 2 February titled 'Authorizing Certain Transactions with the Federal Security Service' now allows payments to "the Federal Security Service (aka. FSB) that are necessary" if the US wants to export technology products into Russia.

The change will seek to rollback sanctions imposed by Obama on 28 December 2016. The following day Obama declared 35 Russian diplomats 'persona non grata' and gave them 72 hours to leave the the US.

Obama's original sanctions coincided with the release of a Department of Homeland Security and FBI file. It drew links between the hacking and theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign and Russian intelligence during the 2016 US election. The stolen emails were published by WikiLeaks throughout the 2016 campaign, although WikiLeaks denies Russia as the source.

On 6 January, the US government also released a 25-page declassified analysis of a secretive joint Intelligence Community (IC) report on Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have frayed since 2014 when Obama placed a first set of sanctions on Russian following President Vladimir Putin's annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine.

Putin and US President Donald Trump spoke for the first time following Trump's inauguration on Saturday 28 January and talked about "establishing real coordination of actions between Russia and the USA aimed at defeating ISIS and other terrorists groups in Syria," said the Kremlin. Trump has repeatedly said he intends to lift sanctions imposed on Russia and reestablish a relationship.

"This shows that actual joint work on establishing an anti-terrorism coalition is about to begin," former director of the FSB Nikolai Kovalyov told Russian state newswire TASS. "This is the first step on the way leading to cooperation in the war on terror."

"Without easing these sanctions it would have been impossible to take the next step," Kovalyov said. "These practical actions indicate that US President Donald Trump has been consistent."