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9 Mar, 2022 13:57

EU slaps new sanctions on Russia and Belarus

The measures target technology and individuals, cut several Belarusian banks from SWIFT
EU slaps new sanctions on Russia and Belarus

The European Union has unveiled a fresh round of sanctions on Russia and Belarus in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The measures expel several Belarusian banks from the SWIFT network, target the Russian maritime sector, and place restrictions on 160 Russian businesspeople and lawmakers.

Announced on Wednesday, the new sanctions restrict the provision of SWIFT services to Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt, and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus, and forbids transactions with the Central Bank of Belarus. They also prohibit the supply of euro banknotes to Belarus and forbid European banks from accepting deposits of more than  €100,000 from Belarusian nationals.

Belarus was already heavily sanctioned since President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on election protests last year, with another tranche of penalties applied after Russian forces entered Ukraine from Belarusian territory last month.

For Russia, the latest round of EU sanctions sees new restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio technology, and adds the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping to the bloc’s list of sanctioned entities. The amendment containing the sanctions also includes a provision counting cryptocurrency as “transferable securities” subject to restrictions.

The amendment also targets 160 individuals. Fourteen of these are businesspeople involved in Russia’s “metallurgical, agriculture, pharmaceutical, telecom and digital industries,” as well as their families, and 146 are members of the Russian Federation Council who ratified a treaty recognizing the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics immediately before the outbreak of conflict.

Following Wednesday’s announcement, EU sanctions now apply to a total of 862 individuals and 53 entities. The bloc is not alone in seeking to punish Russia over Ukraine, with the UK and US applying their own economic penalties too. US President Joe Biden has boasted of his efforts to “crater” the Russian economy, while the Kremlin has accused Washington of waging “economic war against Russia.”

At the risk of harming their own economies, the UK and US have banned Russian oil imports. The EU, which depends much more heavily on Russia for its energy needs, has taken a more conservative approach. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday that the EU would reduce its demand for Russian gas by two thirds before the end of the year, and phase out Russian fossil fuels before 2030.