Riga, Brussels The EU Commission wants its sanctions against Russia tighten. The core of the package presented on Wednesday is a price cap on Russian oil. She also wants to impose export bans on other dual-use goods and add new individuals to the sanctions lists. The Commission proposal still has to be approved by the 27 Member States.
With the partial mobilization and the sham referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories, the Russian President Wladimir Putin the war is escalating, said the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday in Brussels. “We are determined that the Kremlin will pay for this escalation.”
After Russia’s partial mobilization last week, the EU foreign ministers announced their intention to tighten sanctions. The Commission has now presented concrete proposals. Further import bans for Russian goods are planned in the amount of seven billion euros.
The export of certain aviation products and chemical substances is also to be banned. This will further weaken Russia’s industrial base, von der Leyen said. In addition, Europeans will be banned from sitting on the supervisory boards of Russian companies. The companies should not benefit from Western expertise.
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Details on the oil price cap were not initially known. The G7 countries had already decided on such a cap in principle.
Legal basis for implementation
The legal basis is now being created to implement it in the EU, said von der Leyen. According to the G7 plans, western tankers will only be allowed to transport Russian petroleum products and crude oil if the oil is bought below a certain price.
There is no concrete limit for this so far. This could work by tying important services, such as insurance for oil shipments, to compliance with the rule.
“This oil price cap will help reduce Russia’s revenues on the one hand and keep global energy markets stable on the other,” von der Leyen said. Cyprus and Greece have always opposed such a price cap because they have large tanker fleets. EU diplomats have recently noticed a certain openness in Athens, but there is still resistance in Nicosia.
The sanctions package initially has nothing to do with the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, which became known on Tuesday. As long as it is unclear who is responsible for the sabotage, the EU Commission will refrain from assigning blame.
Von der Leyen did not mention the pipelines at all when presenting the sanctions package. However, sentiment towards Russia has continued to deteriorate as some states suspect the Kremlin of being behind the sabotage.
In the two gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and North Stream 2, which lead from Russia to Germany, at least three leaks were discovered, as the operating company announced on Tuesday. They occur near the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, partly in Danish and partly in Swedish waters.
Josep Borrell: Deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure unacceptable
With Nord Stream 1, both tubes are said to be affected, with Nord Stream 2 one or both, the Handelsblatt learned from Russian industry circles. Earlier, on Monday night, an unusually strong drop in pressure had been detected in one of the pipelines.
As a result, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that any investigation that could provide clarity would be supported. At the same time, he made it clear that any intentional disruption of the European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and “will be answered with a robust and joint response”.
However, the reason given for the new sanctions was the sham referendums with which Russia wants to annex the four occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Cherson in the east and south of the country. Borrell said the sham referenda followed the same pattern as in Georgia in 2008 and the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 when Russia annexed new territories. They are a breach of international law.
Therefore, the Commission is now proposing to remove collaborators from Russia in the occupied territories in the Ukraine subject to sanctions. The Russian authorities in the territories should also be on the list, as well as all actors “spreading disinformation about the war,” Borrell said. These do not necessarily have to be Russian citizens.
Another new category includes people who help circumvent EU sanctions. “This will have a great deterrent effect,” von der Leyen said. More than 1,300 Russian individuals and organizations are already on the EU sanctions lists.
Dissatisfaction with the sham referendums extends beyond the EU. Also the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the staged votes. These made diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict more difficult, Erdogan said after a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, according to his office.
Bogus referendums not in line with UN
Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, which traditionally has close ties with Russia, also made it clear that his country would not recognize the results. Vucic said in Belgrade that Russia’s actions are not in line with international law, the United Nations (UN) Charter and UN resolutions. The government has condemned the war of aggression, but has so far not supported the sanctions of the European Union.
In a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian President, Chancellor Olaf Scholz again stressed that Germany would “never recognize” the results of the sham referendums in the occupied territories, a government spokesman said.
Observers assume that Kremlin boss Putin will announce the annexation on Friday.
There is also growing concern that the Kremlin could impose an exit ban in the coming days, since men in particular have been leaving the country in large numbers since mobilization began in the country. The US Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday asked US citizens who are in Russia to leave the country.