EU countries agree to new sanctions against Russia

EU countries agree to new sanctions against Russia

On the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, EU countries agreed on another package of sanctions against Russia after lengthy negotiations. Among other things, the new punitive measures provide for additional trade restrictions, as announced by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU on Friday night in Brussels. It is the tenth sanctions package since February last year.

Agreement was reached at the Committee of Permanent Representatives of all 27 Member States in Brussels. Now, it must be formalized in a written procedure by Saturday, at 11:30 am. The package will enter into force as soon as it is published in the Official Journal of the EU.

In fact, the new sanctions were supposed to come into effect on the anniversary, but the negotiations took longer than anticipated. According to diplomats, the main reason for this was that Poland vehemently pushed for tighter rules on restrictions on the import of synthetic rubber from Russia – but Italy rejected them. Poland finally gave in. According to a Polish diplomat, Warsaw has agreed on the condition that imports of synthetic rubber into the EU are subject to regular checks in the future. In addition, work continues on sanctions against the Russian nuclear sector.

What the restrictions apply to

According to previous information from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the new trade restrictions will apply in particular to industrial goods that Russian industry cannot obtain from third countries such as China. This includes machine parts, antennas, cranes, special vehicles and spare parts for trucks and engines.

In addition, there are said to be export restrictions on around 50 new electronic components that could be used for Russian weapons systems, as well as drones, rockets and helicopters. Certain rare earths and thermal imaging cameras are also covered by the new rules.

In order to prevent companies from non-EU countries from supplying Russia with civilian goods that can be used for military purposes, such as drones, the application of the existing sanctions regime will be extended. In the future, companies will have to fear losing access to the EU’s internal market. According to the Commission, several Iranian companies involved in supplying Russia with Shahed-type drones will be sanctioned as a first step. “We want to use this to scare other companies and international traders,” von der Leyen said in mid-February.

As with previous sanctions packages, the list of people who can no longer enter the EU and whose EU assets are to be frozen will also be added. Propagandists, military commanders and political leaders would be affected.

Zelensky: No meeting with Putin

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reiterated his strict no to a meeting with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. He was also reacting to a move by Turkish President Recep Tayyin Erdogan in Kiev on Friday who wanted to persuade Putin to start talks over the phone. Zelenskiy said that before the start of the war, Erdogan suggested that he bring Putin to the negotiating table to avoid a major war.

“But he couldn’t.” Then he added, “Now we can’t.” However, Zelensky offered the prospect of meeting Chinese head of state and party leader Xi Jinping. “I believe this will be beneficial for our countries and for global security,” Zelensky said. “It’s not just about war. It’s about us being states interested in maintaining economic ties.” China has already asked both sides to talk in a position paper.

NATO countries want peace talks

In any case, Germany, France and Britain want to encourage Ukraine to start peace talks with Russia. The Wall Street Journal reported late on Friday, citing representatives from the three countries. The three most important Euro-NATO partners see the closer ties between NATO and Kiev as an opportunity to persuade Kiev to start negotiations. China’s representative to the UN, Dai Bing, also called for talks in New York “without conditions”.

“We call on Russia and Ukraine to resume talks without preconditions,” Dai told a UN Security Council meeting marking the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. “Ukraine is not an arena for battles between big countries. Nobody should benefit from the conflict at the expense of the people of Ukraine,” said the Beijing diplomat. China has previously called for a ceasefire and talks in a position paper.

At ORF’s ZiB 2, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrij Melnyk welcomed the Chinese position paper on ending the war. At the same time, he declared that many of the points it contained were “unacceptable”, such as calls for a ceasefire or the lifting of sanctions against Moscow. Instead, Beijing should influence the Kremlin to get Russia to end the war, because after all the “key to ending the war” lies with the Kremlin, Melnyk said via Skype on the ORF program.