April 23. 2024. 7:45

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EU targets Chinese firms, North Korea in new Ukraine war anniversary sanctions package

EU member states on Wednesday (21 February) agreed to ban exports to three mainland Chinese firms and blacklist North Korea’s defence minister in new sanctions for the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The fresh round of restrictive measures – the 13th since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 invasion – is limited in scope as the bloc was keen to see it approved before the war’s second anniversary.

EU ambassadors approved the package very quickly, without discussion, except for one statement from Hungary, who last week had requested more time to consider the contents, EU diplomats said.

It also focuses much of its efforts on enforcing existing restrictions and targets some 200 hundred officials and entities, making it the largest package since the war started.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the agreement by the EU’s 27 countries and said it would further cut “Russia’s access to drones”.

“We must keep degrading Putin’s war machine,” von der Leyen wrote on X.

In a first, the new sanctions included adding three mainland Chinese firms to a list of companies that EU businesses were banned from dealing with, according to EU diplomats.

Those were accused of involvement in supplying sensitive military technology to Russia that was ending up on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Trade restrictions for the first time were also included on Indian and Turkish companies aiding Russia’s war machine to access banned components and technologies, as the EU increasingly targets third countries for helping Moscow circumvent its sanctions.

As part of the new package, EU diplomats the bloc imposed an asset freeze and visa ban on North Korea’s defence minister, Kang Sun Nam, for the supply of ballistic missiles to Moscow.

The package also included sanctions on Russian shipping firms transporting the armaments.

It also expands on export restrictions on several technologies and electronics, such as chips, machines and ball bearings used by Russia’s defence industry.

A formal written procedure will turn the agreement into law by 24 February, the Belgian presidency said.

With the package, the EU has imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia in the two years of its war and has so far put some 2,000 officials and entities on its blacklist.

EU ambassadors renewed the current sanctions regime for six months, which was set to expire by 15 March, and which is a standard procedure under which the sanction regimes have to be voted to be prolonged twice a year.

Despite the economic punishment, Russia’s economy has remained resilient, and the Kremlin has managed to ramp up military production.

According to several EU diplomats, work on the following 14th round of sanctions is expected to start in the next few weeks to focus more on the sectorial aspects that remain unaddressed.

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