By Alexander Miller, consultant in international politics, for Eurasia Business News – April 5, 2022
The new package of EU sanctions against Russia provides for restrictive measures in the fields of energy, trade, transport, as well as personal sanctions, announced the Executive Deputy President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis on Tuesday. New restrictions could be adopted as early as April 6
“The fifth package of sanctions will affect not only energy, it is a broad package of sanctions that covers various areas, and also includes more personal sanctions, trade sanctions, sanctions against the transport sector,” said Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis.
EU Commission President von der Leyen stated on the fifth round of sanctions against Russia that :
” It is important to sustain utmost pressure on Putin and the Russian government at this critical point. The four packages of sanctions have hit hard and limited the Kremlin’s political and economic options. We are seeing tangible results. But clearly, in view of events, we need to increase our pressure further. Today, we are proposing to take our sanctions a step further. We will make them broader and sharper, so that they cut even deeper in the Russian economy.”
Ursula von der Leyen announced that the fifth EU sanctions package will impose an import ban on coal from Russia, worth EUR 4 billion per year. The new sanctions will also impose full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These banks will be totally cut off from the Western financial markets. The EU will also ban Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy.
Fourthly, the German President of the EU Commission said that the EU will further target export bans, worth EUR 10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, we will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.
The EU will also impose specific import bans, worth EUR 5.5 billion, to cut the cash flow of Russian state and oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor. In doing this, Ursula von der Leyen explained that the EU will also close loopholes between Russia and Belarus.
Sixthly, the EU wants to take very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.
Finally, Brussels wants to propose to Member States further listings of sanctioned individuals.
However, according to informed sources, the EU does not yet plan to impose sanctions against Russian oil and gas, since countries higly depend on these Russian energy imports, like Germany, Austria, Latvia, Estonia or Finland. The European Commission could also propose a ban on entry into the European territory for “most Russian trucks and ships”, according to these sources.
Two EU officials, who did not want to be named due the sensitive nature of the talks, told the US media CNBC that a proposal for the next sanctions package includes airplane leasing, steel products, luxury goods and jet fuel.
Read also : How will Russia respond to Western sanctions ?
The Latvian Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the EU Commission, gave a press conference today after the ECOFIN Council meeting. He voiced strongly for new sanctions against Russian :
“It is also vital that EU countries coordinate and work together – with our global partners too – to make sure that sanctions are properly and quickly enforced. Not circumvented. Any loophole should be closed off, quickly and firmly. […]
The Latvian politician added : “We have started developing the Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund. It will be discussed later this month in the IMF’s annual meeting in Washington DC as well. The Commission has also started work on a longer-term Macro-Financial Assistance programme for Ukraine.”
To take such new restrictive measures, Brussels needs the support of all 27 member states of the European Union.
Coal prices jumped today as Brussels proposed to ban imports from Russia.
After France and Germany on Monday, Italy, Spain and Slovenia in turn expelled Russian diplomats en masse on Tuesday, marking a further deterioration in relations with Moscow, after allegations of killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian troops.
The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell announced on Tuesday that he had decided to declare “persona non grata” several members of the representation of Russia to the European Union because of “activities contrary” to their status as diplomats, without specifying either the number or the date of their expulsion.
Italy has decided to expel 30 Russian diplomats on “national security” grounds. “This decision was taken in agreement with other European and Atlantic partners,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said, adding that Italy supported “with conviction” the new sanctions presented Tuesday by the European Commission.
The legal origin of this procedure of declaring an individual “persona non grata“, is in the international law of diplomatic relations. The article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and article 23 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations have codified the rule that provides that a receiving State has the possibility, without having to give reasons for its decision, to declare an agent in its territory “persona non grata”.
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