March 4. 2024. 7:17

The Daily

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Russian banks and invasion leaders in focus as EU debates new sanctions


Representatives of the 27 European Union countries meet in Brussels on Wednesday (15 February) to discuss a new batch of sanctions against Russia, with politicians, military leaders and four more Russian banks expected to be targeted.

Any new measures, which the bloc is expected to agree to mark the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, would require the unanimous backing of all EU member states.

“We will impose sanctions on a number of politicians and military leaders,” the head of EU executive European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said last week after a summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We will target (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s propagandists because their lies are poisoning the public space in Russia and abroad.”

“The package will include additional export bans worth more than €10 billion ($10.7bln). This will further starve Russia’s military machine and continue to shake the foundation of its economy,” she said.

Her Commission has since proposed EU countries should cut four more Russian banks, including the private Alfa-Bank, the online bank Tinkoff and the commercial lender Rosbank from global messaging system SWIFT, two EU diplomatic sources said on condition of anonymity.

Rubber and asphalt would be added to the EU list of barred imports from Russia and the bloc would ban Russia Today’s Arabic service from its territory, according to the sources, who are familiar with the confidential talks.

The export bans are meant to stifle Russia’s ability to produce arms and equipment deployed against Ukraine.

The sources said the new bans would include electronic circuits and components, thermal cameras, radios and heavy vehicles, as well as steel and aluminium used in construction and machinery used for industrial and/or construction purposes.

The Commission also put forward further restrictions on European joint ventures with Russia and Russian nationals sitting on boards in Europe, they added.

Blacklisting those involved in the production of Iran’s drones used in Ukraine was also among the measures under discussion.

The bloc aims to both extend its measures against Russia and close loopholes in existing sanctions, including by imposing tighter controls on selling satellite data to China.

The Netherlands proposed to blacklist the Dubai-based Sun Ship Management, a unit of Russia’s shipping company Sovcomflot, which is under British, Canadian and US sanctions.

According to the company’s website, many of its vessels fly the flag of Cyprus, an EU country. Cyprus’ diplomatic mission to the EU and Sun Ship Management did not respond to requests for comment.

The unanimity requirement means targeting Russia’s nuclear industry is not under discussion because of opposition from Bulgaria and Hungary, despite calls from Kyiv and Russia hawks inside the bloc, including Poland.

At the last EU summit on 9 February Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said his country would impose a veto on any EU sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry.

His statement drew criticism in his country, with experts saying that such veto in unnecessary, as the Bulgarian nuclear central of Kozloduy, although built at the time of the Soviet Union, has been modernised and can rely on US-made fuel.