In response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the European Union today adopted new measures intended to tighten existing economic sanctions targeting Russia, improve their implementation, and strengthen their effectiveness.
This ‘maintenance and alignment’ package introduces a new prohibition to purchase, import, or transfer, directly or indirectly, gold, if it originates in Russia and it has been exported from Russia into the EU or to any third country after. This prohibition also covers jewellery.
The package also extends the list of controlled items, which may contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement or the development of its defence and security sector, thereby reinforcing export controls on dual use and advanced technology.
Furthermore, the new measures extend the existing port access ban to locks to avoid the circumvention of sanctions and expand the scope of the prohibition on accepting deposits to include those from legal persons, entities or bodies established in third countries and majority-owned by Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia. The acceptance of deposits for non-prohibited cross-border trade will be subject to a prior authorisation by the national competent authorities.
The EU is also introducing a number of clarifications to existing measures, for instance in the field of public procurement, aviation and justice. For instance, technical assistance to Russia for aviation goods and technology will be allowed insofar as it is needed to safeguard the technical industrial standard setting work of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the prohibition to enter into any transactions with Russian public entities will be slightly amended to ensure access to justice.
The EU also decided to extend the exemption from the prohibition to engage in transactions with certain state-owned entities as regards transactions for agricultural products and the transport of oil to third countries.
“None of the measures adopted today or earlier in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine target in any way the trade in agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers, between third countries and Russia,” specifies the EU. “Similarly, EU measures do not prevent third countries and their nationals operating outside of the EU from purchasing pharmaceutical or medical products from Russia.”
According to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the EU also “listed another major Russian Bank, Sberbank, and added further individuals involved in Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, such as military officials, the Night Wolves motorcycle club and disinformation actors”.
The Council also strengthened reporting requirements, putting the burden of declaring assets onto sanctioned people. This measure aims to facilitate the freezing of their assets in the EU.
“It sends a strong signal to Moscow: we will keep the pressure high for as long as it takes,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented on Twitter.
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