Latest economic sanctions package targets Russia’s gold, banks, cyclists and actors
Lithuanian Ambassador Arnoldas Pranckevicius said the EU Commission of Permanent Representatives on Wednesday approved the bloc’s seventh package of economic sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile, the EU has relaxed some other anti-Russian restrictions to allow food to be traded.
A series of new economic penalties include an EU-wide ban on gold imports from Russia, a step already taken by the US, UK, Japan and Canada. With Western markets closed for Russian gold due to previous sanctions, the new ban was described by industry analysts as mostly symbolic when it was previewed last week.
The package also freezes the assets of Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender. However, Russian assets needed for global food trade will not be frozen, and the change to existing sanctions, also due for adoption on Wednesday, will cause the EU to release the restrictions. funds belonging to other Russian banks needed for food and fertilizer, Reuters reported.
As well as adding new goods to an existing list aimed at preventing sanctions evasion, Wednesday’s package adds 50 new names to the EU’s blacklist, including military commanders. and politicians. Among the latter were Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin and a number of Ukrainian citizens appointed by Russia to various government positions in the territory it controls in Ukraine.
Relatives of several Russian businessmen who were sanctioned were named, as were actors Sergey Bezrukov and Vladimir Mashkov, as well as Aleksandr Zaldostanov, the leader of the Night Wolves bicycle club. Zaldostanov’s club was founded after the fall of the Soviet Union and has grown into a patriotic movement in support of President Vladimir Putin and against the Western-backed Maidan coup in Ukraine.
Prior to its adoption, the latest round of penalties was described by the European Commission as “Maintenance and Alignment” The package aims to close loopholes in existing listings and tie the EU to other Western allies on gold imports.
No new restrictions are imposed on energy imports. With Russia removed from the SWIFT banking network and sanctions impeding the flow of its gas to Europe, the EU is currently prepare a series of measures to reduce its gas usage by 15%, including mandatory allocations and “Involuntary” reduced domestic use due to higher prices.
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