New EU sanctions package to target Russian military, tech firms for war anniversary

The EU is expected to hit more Russian military and tech firms, including firms shipping ammunition from North Korea, as part of a new package of measures to mark two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

EU ambassadors received the proposal text for the bloc’s 13th package of sanctions from the European Commission and the EU’s diplomatic service (EEAS) on Thursday (8 February) and had a first discussion on its contents.

It will include new listings of persons and entities and look “at the efficiency of our measures, based on the constant learnings from the battlefields”, a Belgian presidency source said.

Russian military, tech firms

Among those are about 55 entities and more than 60 individuals as part of a new package of measures to mark two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, according to a draft document seen by Euractiv.

Among them are individuals and companies involved in producing weapons and supplying key technologies and electronics used by the Russian defence industry to build weapons for the battlefield.

This also includes shipping companies that have provided transportation and logistics to transfer ammunition to Russia from North Korea after the latter had provided Moscow with hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds that have tilted the balance on the battlefield.

According to a draft document, the current proposals also add several military and other officials, politicians and company directors to the sanctions listings.

No new sectorial sanctions

However, the new sanctions proposal will not add new import bans, such as new EU embargoes on Russian metals, liquid gas, or nuclear firms.

Despite calls from some EU member states to ban more Russian exports like aluminium, the European Commission proposes a package it hopes will cause minimal debate among member states so it passes quickly.

“We need to move faster this time than with the last package, also to send a message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” one EU diplomat said.

“As always: There isn’t much point in measuring these packages against each other, as the room to do more is increasingly small,” a second EU diplomat added.

In its previous twelve rounds of restrictive measures, the EU banned many decisive items such as sea-borne Russian oil imports and, most recently, diamonds.

EU officials believe little is left that EU member states could find unanimous agreement on, with Russian nuclear fuel and liquefied natural gas sanctions considered off the table for now.

Anniversary package and then?

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament earlier this week on Tuesday (6 February) that the next sanction round would be enforced by the “symbolic” date of 24 February.

“Without wishing to get bogged down in an agenda, the ideal scenario is to get this package approved by the second anniversary of the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” a third EU diplomat said.

EU member states are expected to send comments before the end of this week, and the bloc’s ambassadors are scheduled to debate the proposal in detail next week.

As with previous rounds, all 27 EU member states must vote unanimously to adopt the new sanctions package.

Once the 13th sanctions anniversary package is passed, the European Commission could relatively quickly propose a 14th set of measures, including some new import bans, several EU diplomats suggested.

Eastern proposals

A group of Eastern European member states has been urging the bloc to be more ambitious and add new economic sanctions to the package,

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have been calling for the 3 NOs: there should be at least no new contracts with Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom, no investments into the Russian civil nuclear energy sector and no enriched uranium imports from Russia.

They had also called for further export restrictions for goods and technology used in drone (UAV) production targeted at the disruption of Russia’s military machine and restricting the export of particular items to Iran by using the anti-circumvention mechanism, according to an earlier proposal seen by Euractiv.

Besides countering circumvention and targeting the export of dual-use and advanced technology goods, they also argued in favour of further import restrictions on metal scraps, LNG, iron ores, and aluminium products.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic had tried to resurrect a proposal in December to curb freedom of movement for Russian diplomats in Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

However, EU diplomats said Austria, France, Germany, and others opposed the move as they believed enforcing such measures on the ground was impossible.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

Read more with Euractiv

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