EU's fifth sanctions package against Russia on its way

Following the revelations of the possible war crimes committed by the Russian troops in Bucha, Ukraine, the EU has taken measures to adopt its fifth sanctions package against Russia. The new sanctions package further tightens the economic leash around Russia. 

Last weekend, gruesome pictures from Bucha, a small city in the Kiyv Oblast of Ukraine, emerged as Russian troops withdrew from the city. Possible war crimes are currently being investigated, and the EU has reacted swiftly by preparing its fifth sanctions package against Russia, once again tightening the economic leash around Russia after a few weeks of "status quo", sanctions-wise.

The warning of additional sanctions was first published through a press statement by President von der Leyen on 5 April 2022. Today, the EU Commission announced in a new press release that the Council has reached an agreement on the fifth package of restrictive measures against Russia in response to its brutal aggression against Ukraine and its people. While the text of the regulation is yet to be published at the time of this insight, the main pillars of the new sanctions have already been revealed:

1. Import ban on coal

An import ban is introduced on coal. The import ban will encompass all forms of Russian coal to the EU.

2. Full transaction ban on four Russian banks

A full transaction ban and asset freeze will be imposed on four Russian banks.

At the time of this article, the exact banks are yet to be published, however, the Commission has revealed in a press release that one of the banks is VTB, the second largest Russian bank.  

In addition to this full transaction ban on certain banks, the sanctions will also include a prohibition on providing high-value crypto-asset services to Russia and on providing advice on trusts to wealthy Russians. 

3. Bans related to transport

A full ban on Russian and Belarusian freight road operators working in the EU will be imposed. There will be exemptions for essentials (e.g. agricultural products and medical care), but the exact scope of such exemptions is to be revealed. 

Further, the EU will impose an entry ban on Russian-flagged vessels to EU ports. Again, certain exemptions are to be revealed with the final text of the regulation.

4. Further targeted export bans

Further targeted export bans will be introduced. While the full list is yet to be revealed, examples include quantum computing, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery, transportation, and chemicals. 

Jet fuel and fuel additives will also be added to the existing export ban. 

5. Extended import bans

Import bans will be imposed on certain products, including cement, rubber products, wood, spirits, liquor and high-end seafood (including caviar). 

6. Exclusion from public contracts and European money

The new sanctions will introduce a full prohibition of Russian nationals and entities from procurement contracts in the EU. Further, restrictions will be imposed on financial and non-financial support to Russian publicly owned or controlled entities under EU, Euratom and member state programmes.

Further sanctions 

Further to the six main pillars described above, small corrections and adjustments will be made to the existing sanctions, and an additional 217 individuals and 18 entities will be added to the list of persons subject to targeted sanctions. A total of 1091 individuals and 80 entities will then be sanctioned under the EU sanctions regime against Russia. 

Still no ban on oil and natural gas

Notably, the EU has not yet imposed a ban on the import of oil and natural gas, presumably as major European countries are still dependent on the supply hereof. President von der Leyen expressed in her statement regarding the fifth sanctions package on 5 April 2022 that the EU was working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and several countries are currently working on limiting their dependency on natural gas. 

More information

Press statement by President von der Leyen on the fifth round of sanctions against Russia, dated 5 April 2022

Press release regarding agreement on the fifth package of restrictive measures against Russia, dated 8 April 2022

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