EU piling more sanctions on Russia
The EU has agreed on the fourth package of sanctions against Russia aiming to pressure Moscow to stop its ongoing military operation in Ukraine. The detailed package will be published in the ‘Official Journal of the EU’ and come into force later on Tuesday.
According to a press release from the European Commission, under the new package, the EU bans any transactions with certain Russian state-owned enterprises across different sectors, calling them “the Kremlin’s military-industrial complex.” The names of the targeted firms have not been unveiled yet, however, according to an earlier Reuters report, Russian energy majors Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Transneft and other state-owned companies with a turnover of more than 1 trillion rubles ($9 billion) are to be targeted.
The bloc also prohibits imports of steel products currently under EU safeguard measures, “amounting to approximately €3.3 billion in lost export revenue for Russia.” It plans to compensate for the losses by introducing increased import quotas to “other third countries.”
The package also includes a ban on new investment across the Russian energy sector, but makes “limited exceptions” for civil nuclear energy and the transport of certain energy products back to the EU.
The bloc extends the list of sanctioned Russian individuals and entities “to include more oligarchs and business elites linked to the Kremlin, as well as companies active in military and defense areas, which are logistically and materially supporting” Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
Earlier reports stated that the list of sanctioned individuals will include Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich and 14 other Russian billionaires. In order to “directly hit Russian elites,” the EU will also place an export ban on luxury goods to Russia, including luxury cars and jewelry.
Moreover, the bloc will prohibit EU credit rating agencies to rate Russia and Russian companies to make sure they lose “even further access to the EU’s financial markets.”
Finally, “the EU, together with other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, agreed today to deny Russian products and services most favored nation treatment in EU markets.”
“This will suspend the significant benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member. These actions against Russia protect the essential security interests of the EU and its partners in light of Russia’s unprovoked, premeditated and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, assisted by Belarus. They are fully justified under WTO law,” the Council of the European Commission said in the press release. According to trade analysts, the step could lead to the imposition of punitive tariffs or a complete ban on Russian goods imports to the bloc.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously said the EU is also working to suspend Russia’s membership rights of leading multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. However, these measures were not mentioned in Tuesday’s package.
Ahead of the meeting of the bloc’s finance ministers in Brussels earlier on Tuesday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the press the EU is “considering all options” to pressure Russia to stop the operation in Ukraine, which has been heavily criticized by many Western states.
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