European sanctions against RT, Sputnik raise ‘questions,’ Norway says
Norway has signed a package of anti-Russian sanctions into a law, joining the European wave of restrictions imposed over the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt announced Friday. So far, however, Oslo has abstained from targeting Russian state-owned and state-affiliated media outlets.
“Today, the most wide-ranging package of sanctions ever imposed by Norway has been incorporated by the Government into Norwegian law. The sanctions are a response to Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine and also an expression of Norway’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” Huitfeldt said in a statement.
The restrictions imposed by the European nations on RT and Sputnik have not been incorporated into the package yet, the minister noted. The sanctions against the media outlets need further assessment by Norway’s authorities, she explained without elaborating on exactly what questions the said restrictions had attracted.
“This first package of sanctions, now formally adopted by Royal Decree and by the Ministry, corresponds to the restrictive measures imposed by the EU up to and including 9 March 2022,” Huitfeldt said.
The EU sanctions against Russia Today and Sputnik are an exception, and have not been included in this first package. The sanctions against these outlets raise questions of principle and we need to take the time to assess this thoroughly.
In recent weeks, the EU imposed multiple rounds of restrictions on Russia, closing airspace to Russian planes, targeting the country’s financial and energy sectors, banning exports of luxury goods, and targeting top officials and lawmakers with personal sanctions.
Media outlets RT and Sputnik were targeted as well, having been accused by the bloc of spreading “harmful disinformation” amid the conflict, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branding them a part of “the Kremlin’s media machine.”
The massive wave of sanctions comes in response to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, launched by Moscow in late February. Moscow opted to attack its neighbor following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014-15 Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia also outlined the goals to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country. Kiev maintains the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it had been planning to retake the two republics by force.