New Solution to the Problem of EU Sanctions

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EU Sanctions - Russia
FILE PHOTO: Plastic letters arranged to read "Sanctions" are placed in front the flag colors of EU and Russia in this illustration taken February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The restrictive measures against Russia that the EU, the US, and other countries introduced during 2 years of military conflict turned out to be insufficient to end the conflict. Therefore, by the beginning of the 3rd year of hostilities, the EU countries had agreed on and adopted the 13th package of sanctions. The circle of individuals and legal entities subject to these sanctions has expanded to more than 2,000 entities. What was new in these sanctions in comparison with the previous 12 packages?

Main Objective: Solve the Problem of Bypassing Sanctions

One of the reasons why previous rounds of sanctions did not have the desired effect is that Russia has learned to overcome them. The EU has long been concerned about the growing circumvention of its sanctions. Therefore, this package includes some measures against companies and individuals who are involved in the supply of weapons or their components to Russia. The Commission expects that such a measure will help combat the problem of re-exports and significantly undermine Russia’s ability to increase military production.

Controversies Over the 13th Package of Sanctions

Although the package of sanctions was agreed upon by all EU member states, conflicting issues still appeared. In particular, Hungary initially blocked a new package of sanctions. This was explained by its argument that some of the points were harmful to Hungarian interests. In particular, Hungarian officials were talking about some Chinese companies with which the country has trade relations. And only after controversial issues were resolved, the country unblocked the process and supported the general decision. 

Also, Hungary tried to lift sanctions from three Russian individuals who were previously included in the sanctions list: Alisher Usmanov, Dmitry Mazepin, and Viatcheslav Kantor. Usmanov’s case became the subject of proceedings in the EU General Court. Alisher Usmanov insists that he was included in the sanctions list based on deliberately false information. However, the court rejected his appeal against the sanctions without providing convincing public comments about the judgment. This gave Hungary grounds to raise this issue again before the next extension of sanctions for another 6 months. Still, its position did not find support among the other member states.

The Bottom Line

The 13th package of sanctions not only expanded the circle of sanctioned legal entities and individuals but also crossed the borders of Russia in an effort to solve the problem of circumventing sanctions. In total, another 106 individuals and 88 legal entities were included in the list. The list of goods prohibited for import into Russia has also been expanded. These are the goods that can be used in the military industry. 

Will these measures be enough or should we wait for further expansion of sanctions? Much will depend on the reaction of those countries whose companies are on this list and their willingness to continue cooperation with Russia.

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