After Bucha, EC proposes fifth package of sanctions against Russia

The European Commission (EC) proposed on April 5 a fifth package of sanctions against Russia, including an import ban on coal from Russia, a transaction ban on four key Russian banks, a ban on Russian vessels from EU ports and further export and import bans.

“We all saw the gruesome pictures from Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left,” EC President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Yesterday, I conveyed to President Zelenskyy my condolences and assured him of the European Commission’s full support in these terrible times,” Von der Leyen said.

“These atrocities cannot and will not be left unanswered. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must not go unpunished,” she said

Von der Leyen said that the EU had set up a Joint Investigation Team with Ukraine, with the task of collecting evidence and investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

She said that the four packages of sanctions had hit hard and limited the Kremlin’s political and economic options.

“We are seeing tangible results. But clearly, in view of events, we need to increase our pressure further,” Von der Leyen said.

Proposed is an import ban on coal from Russia, worth four billion euro a year. Von der Leyen said that this would cut another important revenue source for Russia.

Envisaged is a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank.

“These four banks, which we now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23 per cent of market share in the Russian banking sector. This will further weaken Russia’s financial system.”

The EC wants a ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports.

Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy.

“Additionally, we will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods,” Von der Leyen said.

Fourth is further targeted export bans, worth 10 billion euro, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable.

“This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, we will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity,” she said.

The EC is proposing specific new import bans, worth 5.5 billion euro, “to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor”.

“In doing this, we also close loopholes between Russia and Belarus,” Von der Leyen said.

“Sixth: We take a number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in member states, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.

“Because European tax money should not go to Russia in whatever shape or form,” she said.

Von der Leyen said that the EC was proposing further listings of individuals, about which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell would detail.

“We are working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and we are reflecting on some of the ideas presented by the member states, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account,” Von der Leyen said.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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