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The European Union on Friday imposed another round of sanctions against Russia, freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin’s adult daughters and banning imports of caviar, vodka and coal.
“These latest sanctions follow the atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha and elsewhere under Russian occupation,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement Explanation by the Council of the EU. “The aim of our sanctions is to stop the reckless, inhumane and aggressive behavior of Russian troops and to make it clear to decision-makers in the Kremlin that their unlawful aggression comes at a high cost.”
Here’s an overview of what’s in the EU fifth round of war sanctions against Ukraine.
Target the family
The new round of sanctions is trying to cast a wider net of allies of Putin and the Kremlin. The EU sanctioned 217 more people on Friday, bringing the total number of people sanctioned since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 to over 1,000.
Best known are Putin’s two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova (née Putina), who cannot travel to the EU and whose assets are frozen.
Officially, they are being targeted because they benefit from the Russian government, an EU official said. But the direct blow to Putin’s wallet could also be a motive. A senior US official said earlier this week his country has sanctioned the two because his administration believes Putin is hiding his money with family members. Similar tones were heard in Britain, which took the same step on Friday. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged allies to “do more” to cut off Putin’s funding sources.
Other senior officials on the EU list include industrialist and billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Sberbank chairman Herman Gref, gold miner Said Kerimov and oligarch Boris Rotenberg. Assets worth around 30 billion euros have been frozen so far, according to to the newly established EU Freeze and Seize Task Force.
caviar and coal
The sanctions will also hit European companies and consumers of caviar and Russian vodka, both of whom have been hit by import bans. Trade in vodka accounted for 98 percent of spirits imports from Russia.
It’s not just party products, though.
As expected, the Council of the EU also banned any “purchase, import or transfer” of coal and other solid fossil fuels from Russia. This applies to new contracts with immediate effect, but provides for a four-month grace period for existing contracts. From August, all existing coal contracts with Russia must also be terminated.
The four-month wait for the full coal ban to come into effect represents a dilution of the European Commission’s original plan, which called for a three-month grace period. Germany was among the countries urging more time.
According to data from the Euracoal lobby group, the EU imported 49 million tons of Russian coal in 2020. The Council estimates that coal imports into the EU are currently worth €8 billion a year.
This is part of a broader measure to restrict trade. The EU expanded its import and export ban, also targeting jet fuel and other goods such as quantum computers and advanced semiconductors and high-end electronics. There are new import bans on products such as wood, cement and fertilizers.
Since the sanctions were passed, exports to Russia have fallen by about three quarters compared to the same period last year, according to an EU official.
Meanwhile, Brussels is also trying to lock Russia out of the world’s financial markets, causing as much economic pain as possible.
Four Russian Banks — namely VTB Bank, Sovcombank, Novikombank and Otkritie FC Bank – according to a press release by the European Commission, which represents about 23 percent of the Russian banking sector.
Banks were already launched from SWIFT, an international payments platform central to conducting transactions, but this move goes further. “It’s over,” an official told reporters in Brussels.
Additionally, the EU is introducing new restrictions on crypto companies providing services to Russians in Europe, amid fears that oligarchs could use the market to move their fortunes.
The sanctions are aimed at Russian means of transport, namely ships and trucks. Under the new measures, ships registered under the Russian flag are no longer allowed to dock in EU ports.
But that includes sweeping exceptions, as initial considerations to ban Russian-controlled ships have been shelved due to the complexity of determining who is in control of them, according to an EU official. Exceptions are also granted for the transport of “agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid and energy”.
Similarly, the bloc bans “any Russian and Belarusian road transport company” from transporting goods by road within the EU. However, this includes similar exceptions ranging from pharmaceutical and medical products to agricultural and food products – including the coveted wheat.
The EU hopes the measures will put pressure on the Kremlin. “Impacts are beginning to be seen and felt,” said an EU official.
But that won’t stop the war in Ukraine overnight, admitted another official, adding: “That was not to be expected.”
Zosia Wanat, Lili Bayer and Bjarke Smith-Meyer contributed reporting.
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