The EU adopts its 12th sanctions package against Russia

On 18 December 2023, the EU adopted its 12th sanctions package against Russia, imposing additional import and export bans and measures to combat circumvention.

The 12th sanctions package against Russia includes, inter alia, the following measures: 

  • Additional export prohibitions, namely on dual-use/advanced tech and industrial goods (such as machinery and parts, raw materials, lasers and batteries). The list of entities associated with Russia's military industrial complex, and to whom stricter export prohibitions apply, have also been extended by 29 Russian and third-country entries, including Uzbekistan and Singapore. 

  • Additional import prohibitions, namely on diamonds (including Russian diamonds polished in a third country and lab-grown diamonds) and raw materials for steel production, processed aluminium products and other metal goods. The new package also includes new measures to tighten the oil price cap and an import prohibition on liquefied propane. 

  • Additional prohibitions on the provision of services. The sale, supply, transfer, export or provision, directly or indirectly, of software for the management of enterprises and software for industrial design and manufacture (e.g. ERP-systems, CRM-systems, BI-systems, etc.), has been added to the list of prohibited services, which already encompasses e.g. business management and consulting services, auditing, PR-services, legal services and IT-consultancy. It is important in this regard to also be aware that the exemption for the provision of such services intended for the exclusive use of legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia that are owned by, or solely or jointly controlled by, a legal person, entity or body incorporated or constituted in the EU/EEA, Switzerland or one of the EU's partner countries (e.g. subsidiaries of EU companies) is changed to a derogation requiring an authorisation from the national competent authorities after 20 June 2024. This is highly relevant for EU parent companies providing any of these services to their Russian subsidiaries.  

  • Additional measures to avoid circumvention. Most notably, an obligation on operators to contractually prohibit the re-export of sold products to Russia. For now, however, this ban only applies to certain sensitive goods, such as goods related to aviation, jet fuel, firearms and goods on the Common High Priority List. Other anti-circumvention measures include (among others) a broadening of the scope of the transit prohibition and new reporting requirements when EU entities directly or indirectly owned for more than 40% by Russian nationals or entities established in Russia transfer funds out of EU.
  • Additional listing of 71 individuals and 33 entities on the list of natural and legal persons subject to asset freeze and the prohibition to make funds and economic resources available. The newly listed entities include companies from the IT sector. The new package also opens for the possibility of sanctioning persons who benefit from the forced transfer of ownership or control over Russian subsidiaries of EU companies. 

Further to the new restrictive measures, the EU has also extended the deadline for obtaining an approval to sell sanctioned products in Russia for the purpose of divesting Russian activities, from 31 December 2023 to 30 June 2024. 

The new sanctions package comes less than a week after the EU Commission could announce a political agreement on new rules criminalizing the violation of EU sanctions, which seeks to harmonise the relevant criminal offences related to the violation of EU sanctions and the penalties therefore across the EU (including imprisonment of at least five years for certain offences).

The political agreement awaits the formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council, whereafter it will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the EU Official Journal.

Want to know more?

Council Regulation (EU) 2023/2878 of 18 December 2023 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine  

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2875 of 18 December 2023 implementing Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine  

Council Regulation (EU) 2023/2873 of 18 December 2023 amending Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine 
The EU Commission press release on the adoption of the 12th package of sanctions against Russia for its continued illegal war against Ukraine

The EU Commission press release on the political agreement on new rules criminalising the violation of EU sanctions  

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