The European Union will today adopt a fourth package of measures to further isolate Russia and divert resources it is using to finance the war against Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell announced on Friday evening.
Most of the new measures have been agreed with members of the G7, which includes the EU.
First, the EU will deny Russia the status of most-favoured-nation in EU’s markets. “This will revoke important benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member. Russian companies will no longer receive privileged treatment in our economies,” said von der Leyen. She added that the EU would also work to suspend Russia’s membership rights in leading multilateral financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and ensure that Russia cannot obtain financing, loans, or any other benefits from these institutions. “Because Russia cannot grossly violate international law and, at the same time, expect to benefit from the privileges of being part of the international economic order,” said von der Leyen.
Secondly, the EU will continue to put pressure on the Russian elite close to Putin, as well as their families and associates. To this end, G7 finance, justice and home affairs ministers will meet next week to coordinate the work of a task force set up by the EU to tackle Putin’s cronies.
Third, the EU, according to von der Leyen, will make sure that the Russian state and its elites cannot use crypto assets to circumvent the sanctions: “We will stop the group close to Putin and the architects of his war from using these assets to grow and transfer their wealth.”
Fourth, the EU will ban the export of any EU luxury goods from its member states to Russia, “as a direct blow to the Russian elite” – “those who sustain Putin’s war machine should no longer be able to enjoy their lavish lifestyle while bombs fall on innocent people in Ukraine,” said von der Leyen.
Fifth, the EU will prohibit the import of key goods in the iron and steel sector from the Russian Federation. This will hit a central sector of Russia’s system, deprive it of billions of export revenues and ensure that EU citizens are not subsidising Putin’s war.
Finally, the EU will propose a big ban on new European investments across Russia’s energy sector. “Because we should not be feeding the energy dependency which we want to leave behind us. This ban will cover all investments, technology transfers, financial services, and etc, for energy exploration and production – and thus have a big impact on Putin,” explained von der Leyen.
In addition to the sectoral measures announced by von der Leyen, EU High Representative Borrell proposed to sanction more individuals and more companies that are playing an active role or supporting the people who undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty by the Russian government.
“With these sanctions, we will continue going after the oligarchs, the regime-affiliated elites, their families and prominent business people, which are involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the regime,” said Borrell. “They are active in the steel industry, they provide military products and technology or they provide financial and investment services. This is another major blow to the economic and logistic base upon which the Kremlin is building the invasion and taking the resources to finance it.”
Borrell added that the EU would target more people who play a leading role in disinformation and propaganda – “a real war, an ideas war, a narrative war – that accompanies this deplorable war of Putin against Ukrainian people”.
Borrell reminded that about 40 countries have already introduced sanctions in response to Putin’s efforts to destroy Ukraine. and they are hitting his regime hard.
Ursula von der Leyen also said that previous waves of sanctions have hit Russia’s economy very hard: “The ruble has plummeted. Many key Russian banks are cut off from the international banking system. Companies are leaving the country, one after the other, not wanting to have their brands associated with a murderous regime.”
The EU and other G7 leaders said on Friday they were united in their determination to hold President Putin and his regime accountable for this unjustified and unprovoked war. “The world should join together in calling on President Putin and his regime to immediately stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine and withdraw its military forces,” G7 leaders said in a statement. “We urge Russia to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to victims of its assault in Ukraine, and to allow safe passage for civilians wishing to leave. We call for, and commit to provide, humanitarian, medical and financial support to refugees from Ukraine.”
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