War in Ukraine: Poland, the Baltic States and Ireland call for tougher sanctions

War in Ukraine: Poland, the Baltic States and Ireland call for tougher sanctions

Poland, the Baltics and Ireland are expected to press for tougher measures against Russia as the union begins consultations on the next package of EU sanctions this weekend. This emerges from a document consulted by EURACTIV.

In response to the latest Russian escalation over the war in Ukraine, EU foreign ministers, who met urgently in New York late this week earlier this week, agreed to start preparing the next package of European sanctions against Moscow.

The states most determined to increase pressure on Moscow have circulated a position paper calling for tougher action.

According to European officials, consultations between the 27 EU member states scheduled for next weekend should help implement the price cap on Russian crude oil, expand the list of people affected by the sanctions and take action against dual-use technologies.

The EU ambassadors could then discuss a proposal for new sanctions as early as next week, to be adopted at a regular meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in mid-October.

EU prepares new sanctions against Russia

A new round of sanctions against Russia is to be prepared after an emergency overnight meeting of EU foreign ministers in New York on Wednesday following Moscow’s recent escalation in the war against Ukraine. A EURACTIV report from New York.

Nuclear, diamonds, software, ports

The measures proposed by Russia’s fiercest opponents would target, among others, the nuclear, luxury goods and Russian IT and technology sectors, as well as excluding more banks from the SWIFT system, we can read in the document consulted by EURACTIV.

The five states want Gazprombank, which acts as an intermediary between EU customers and the state-owned Gazprom, to be permanently excluded from the SWIFT system, a system that enables financial transactions.

In the energy sector, the five states want to push for a ban on cooperation with Russia on nuclear energy.

Although requested by the European Parliament in April, the influence of Rosatom, the Moscow nuclear power company, had previously been ignored by EU member states.

As for the ban on luxury goods, Russian-made diamonds have so far missed the list of embargoes, and Belgium is pushing to get them off the list.

The US Treasury Department estimates that diamonds are among Russia’s top ten non-energy exports, with total sales exceeding $4.5 billion in 2021.

Other technological measures could also target Russia’s IT, cybersecurity and software sectors and limit the availability of IT and other services to Russia.

The EU member states most hostile to the Kremlin have also said they want Kaspersky Lab’s products to be banned in the EU.

Earlier this year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US government warned some US companies that Moscow could tamper with software developed by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky to cause harm.

One of the most popular antivirus software makers in the cybersecurity industry and headquartered in Moscow, Kaspersky was founded by Eugene Kaspersky, who US authorities believe is a former Russian intelligence officer.

The document also proposes to ban European companies from providing any kind of insurance services to the Russian government, agencies and companies.

In addition, the five Member States should push to extend the scope of the ban on access to EU ports “any ship owned, leased, chartered or operated or flying the Russian flag by a Russian natural or legal person, entity or body”.

Belarus

Beyond Russia, Moscow is increasingly accused of using Belarus to circumvent Western sanctions.

Last month, the Belarusian opposition called on the European Union to align sanctions against Moscow with Minsk.

The EU first imposed sanctions on Minsk in 2020 for its brutal crackdown, while Belarus and Russia were hit with sanctions after Moscow dispatched tens of thousands of troops from Russian and Belarusian territories to Ukraine on February 24.

Anti-Moscow member states should push for EU sanctions against Russia to be fully reflected in the sanctions regime against Belarus.

In addition, this could also include an extension of the ban on tobacco products, furniture and alcohol.

The question of unanimity

However, according to European diplomats, Hungary again risks becoming an obstacle to the negotiations.

The latest round of sanctions negotiations, which took place in May and saw agreement on the last major sanctions package, was marked by weeks of wrangling with a small coalition of states led by Hungary that had refused to accept an embargo on Russian oil.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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