Peace Consulting

Russia’s War on Ukraine: Details of the 6th European Union’s Sanctions Package against Russia

By <b><br>Dr Marta Katz-Turi</b>

Dr Marta Katz-Turi

The European Council decided on 3 June 2022 to impose restrictive measures on an additional 65 individuals and 18 entities in response to Russia’s ongoing unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine and other actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine. This decision is an integral element of the comprehensive sixth package of sanctions adopted by the Council on the same day. 

Sanctions are among the EU’s most visible, direct and powerful responses to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, including systemic violence and atrocities against the civilian population. This package also imposes further sanctions against Belarus considering its involvement in this aggression. Together with the previous five packages, the sanctions adopted today are unprecedented and designed to further increase economic pressure on Russia and undermine its ability to wage its war on Ukraine. Like with previous sanctions packages, they have been coordinated with international partners.

The European Council, composed of heads of the states of EU Member States, stresses that there can be no impunity for war crimes. 65 new names were added to the sanctions lists those who are responsible for enabling this unjustified war and the war crimes committed in Bucha and Mariupol, adding more people from the military and economic elites and those with close ties with President Putin supporting his illegitimate aggression against the Ukrainian people. The 65 listed individuals include the military staff that led the actions of those units of the Russian army that killed, raped, and tortured civilians in Ukraine in Bucha, including Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, who was nicknamed the ’Butcher of Bucha’.

The list also includes those responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol, including Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Mariupol’, and those who participated in the creation of the so-called Committee of Salvation for Peace and Order in March 2022 – an organ for collaboration with the Russian occupation in Kherson Oblast. Lastly, the EU is imposing sanctions on politicians, propagandists, leading businesspersons and family members of already sanctioned individuals. The former gymnast, Olympic, World and European Champion, and State Duma member of the Russian Federation, Alina Kabaeva is also included in the list as a close associate of President Vladimir Putin.

The 18 sanctioned entities include a variety of companies supporting, directly or indirectly, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation, including Russia’s largest securities depository, the National Settlement Depository.

Altogether, EU restrictive measures now apply to a total of 1,158 individuals and 98 entities. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze, and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

The EU condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It urges Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The atrocities being committed by Russian forces and the suffering and destruction being inflicted are unspeakable. The EU calls on Russia to allow immediate humanitarian access and the safe passage of all civilians concerned. It also calls on Russia to immediately allow the safe return of Ukrainian individuals forcibly removed to Russia.

The European Union is unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the listed individuals and entities, have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

What is Included in the 6th Package of EU Sanctions against Russia?

Today’s package contains a complete import ban on all Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products. This covers 90% of our current oil imports from Russia. The ban is subject to certain transition periods to allow the sector and global markets to adapt, and a temporary exemption for pipeline crude oil to ensure that Russian oil is phased out in an orderly fashion. This will allow the EU and its partners to secure alternative supplies and minimises the impact on global oil prices.

As regards export restrictions, today’s package includes restrictions on chemicals that could be used in manufacturing chemical weapons.

Beyond sanctions, the EU has made it clear that reducing our dependence on energy imports from Russia is an urgent imperative. The Commission adopted its REPowerEU Plan on 18 May 2022 to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible and to tackle the climate crisis.

Today’s package contains the following elements:

1) Oil import restrictions

  • In 2021, the EU imported €48 billion worth of crude oil and €23 billion of refined oil products from Russia. Based on a joint proposal from the High Representative (of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the European Commission, Member States have today decided to impose an embargo on the imports of these products. These sanctions will come into force with immediate effect, and will phase out Russian oil imports in an orderly fashion. For seaborne crude oil, spot market transactions and execution of existing contracts will be permitted for six months after entry into force, while for petroleum products, these will be permitted for eight months after entry into force. Member States who have a particular pipeline dependency on Russia can benefit from a temporary exemption and continue to receive crude oil delivered by pipeline, until the Council decides otherwise. This exemption applies to Hungary. However, Member States benefiting from this exemption will not be able to resell such crude oil and petroleum products to other Member States or third countries.
  • Due to its specific geographical exposure, a special temporary derogation until the end of 2024 has been agreed for Bulgaria which will be able to continue to import crude oil and petroleum products via maritime transport. In addition, Croatia will be able to authorise until the end of 2023 the import of Russian vacuum gas oil which is needed for the functioning of its refinery.

2) Oil transport services

  • After a wind down period of 6 months, EU operators will be prohibited from insuring and financing the transport, in particular through maritime routes, of oil to third countries.
  • This will make it particularly difficult for Russia to continue exporting its crude oil and petroleum products to the rest of the world since EU operators are important providers of such services.

3) Financial and business services measures

  • An additional three Russian banks, including Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, and one additional Belarussian bank have been removed from SWIFT. These banks are critical for the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to further wage war. It will solidify the isolation of the Russian financial sector from the global system.
  • The measures on trusts have been refined and appropriate exceptions have been laid down in a revised version of the provision (e.g. for humanitarian purposes or civil society).
  • The provision of certain business-relevant services – directly or indirectly – such as accounting, auditing, statutory audit, bookkeeping and tax consulting services, business and management consulting, and public relations services to the Russian government, as well as to legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia are now prohibited.

4) Broadcasting suspension

  • The broadcasting activities of another three Russian State outlets – Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24, and TV Centre International – have been suspended. They are among the most important pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets targeting audiences in Ukraine and the EU, and disseminating propaganda in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
  • Several regulators in EU Member States have already taken action against those Russian state-controlled broadcasters and channels. They will now be barred from distributing their content across the EU, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps.
  • The advertising of products or services on sanctioned outlets has also been prohibited.

5) Export restrictions

  • Today’s package includes further export restrictions. The list of advanced technology items banned from export to Russia has been expanded to include additional chemicals that could be used in the process of manufacture of chemical weapons, already controlled since 2013 for other destinations such as Syria. Moreover, today’s package further expands the list of natural, legal persons or entities associated with Russia’s military-industrial complex. These natural, legal persons or entities are involved in various sectors, such as electronics, communications, weapons, shipyards, engineering and scientific research. This update brings the EU in alignment with United States measures, while other partners are expected to align in the near future.
  • The package adds the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea to the Annex of partner countries that have adopted substantially equivalent export restrictions.
  • The list of Belarusian entities subject to restrictions has been significantly widened (from 1 entity to 25). This is related to authorisations for the sale, supply, transfer or export of dual-use goods and technology, as well as goods and technology which might contribute to Belarus’s military and technological enhancement, or to the development of its defence and security sector.

The Commission and the High Representative stand ready to put forward additional sanctions in response to the evolution of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Member States are responsible for the implementation of sanctions. To ensure that the six adopted packages are implemented as effectively and consistently as possible, the Commission is stepping up its outreach to stakeholders and authorities to provide guidance and share information and best practices.

Today’s package builds on the wide-ranging and unprecedented packages of measures the EU has been taking in response to Russia’s acts of aggression against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and mounting atrocities against Ukrainian civilians and cities. The EU stands united in solidarity with Ukraine, and will continue to support Ukraine and its people together with its international partners, including through additional political, financial and humanitarian support.

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