WAR IN UKRAINE
The European Union on Friday formally adopted its fifth package of sanctions against Russia since the country’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products.
The ban on coal imports will be fully effective from the second week of August. No new contracts can be signed from Friday, when sanctions are to be published in the EU’s official journal.
Existing contracts will have to be terminated by the second week of August, meaning that Russia can continue to receive payments from the EU on coal exports until then.
“These latest sanctions were adopted following the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation,” EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement.
The Kremlin has said that Western allegations Russian forces committed war crimes by executing civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army.
The coal ban alone is estimated by the Commission to be worth 8 billion euros a year in lost revenues for Russia. That is twice as big as the EU Commission’s head Ursula von der Leyen had said on Tuesday.
In addition to coal, the new EU sanctions ban imports from Russia of many other commodities and products, including wood, rubber, cement, fertilisers, high-end seafood, such as caviar, and spirits, such as vodka, for a total additional value estimated in 5.5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) a year.
The EU also restricted export to Russia of a number of products, including jet fuel, quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, high-end electronics, software, sensitive machinery and transportation equipment, for a total value of 10 billion euros a year.
The sanctions also forbid Russian companies from participating in public procurement in the EU and extend prohibitions in the use of crypto-currencies that are considered a potential means to circumvent sanctions.
The Commission said that another 217 people were added to the EU blacklist as part of the new sanctions package, meaning their assets in the EU will be frozen and they will be subject to travel bans in the EU.
Most of them are political leaders of the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, but the sanctions also hit top businessmen, politicians and military staff close to the Kremlin.
This brings close to 900 the number of people sanctioned by the EU since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” the country.