The European Commission on Tuesday proposed that member states impose a new package of sanctions against Russia, the fifth since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24th.
The new restrictions include a ban on imports of Russian coal, a total ban on transactions by four Russian banks, the closure of European ports for Russian ships, a ban on Russian companies participating in public procurement in the EU, and additional restrictions on Russia’s exports of high-tech products. expanding the list of sanctioned Russian citizens.
“Russia is waging a brutal war not only against Ukraine’s brave troops but also against its civilian population. It is important to maintain extreme pressure on Putin and the Russian government at this critical time,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
According to her, the sanctions so far show “tangible results”, but the pressure must be intensified to further affect the Russian economy.
Ban on coal imports
The EU plans to ban the import of coal from Russia, for which Europe pays 4 billion euros a year. Russian coal provides 46% of the EU’s needs. Although a comprehensive energy embargo has been discussed, several countries, including Germany and Austria, have said they cannot give up Russian gas for now, so German Foreign Minister Analena Burbock said coal will go through crude oil and the EU would eventually stop imports. of natural gas.
Restriction of Russian banks
Four Russian banks will be completely banned from transactions to, from, and through European banks. The European Commission says that among them is VTB – Russia’s foreign trade bank, which is the second-largest in the country. In total, the four banks represent 23% of the market share in the Russian banking sector, the commission said, without giving further details. The EU has already excluded seven Russian banks from the SWIFT banking system, keeping intact the vaults through which it makes payments for energy purchases from Russia. It later became clear that the four proposed banks were already among those excluded from SWIFT.
Closure of European ports
European ports will be closed to Russian vessels, except for transporting agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid, and energy. A ban on Russian and Belarusian road carriers is proposed. “This ban will drastically limit the ability of Russian industry to receive key goods,” said von der Leyen. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have already closed their highways to Russian and Belarusian trucks, leaving the Finnish-Russian border the only open land link between the EU and Russia. Finland has already stopped rail transport – passenger and freight, with Russia.
Agricultural products and food will still be able to be delivered to the EU by Russian ships, but today President Vladimir Putin warned Russian business and authorities to “carefully monitor the parameters of exports to countries that pursue a hostile policy.” This is seen as a signal that Russia itself may begin to limit its food exports to the EU, including to meet its own needs in a situation of deep isolation from the world market.
The EU plans to impose additional targeted export bans worth 10 billion euros in areas where Russia depends on imports, such as quantum computers, modern semiconductors, machinery, and transport equipment. Some loopholes in previous sanctions, which have been circumvented by re-exporting, will also be closed. The European Commission estimates that blocking them will reduce Russia’s cash flow by 5.5 billion euros from the inability to export products such as wood, cement, seafood, alcohol, and more.
The EU is preparing to introduce a general ban on the participation of Russian companies in public procurement in its 27 member states, as well as the exclusion of any financial support, whether European or national, for Russian public authorities.
It is also planned to expand the list of Russian citizens who are banned from entering the EU and whose bank accounts in European banks will be frozen. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “dozens of politicians, businessmen, and advocates” would be added. More companies from the financial, military, and transport sectors will be included in the sanctions.
The EU has already sanctioned more than 850 people, including President Vladimir Putin, over the war in Ukraine. Putin has no ban on joining the EU, only a restriction on his accounts so as not to interfere with a possible peace meeting.
The European Commission’s proposal is due to be discussed on Wednesday by EU ambassadors to Brussels, who must reach a consensus on the measures before they can be submitted for final approval by European governments.
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