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Ukraine Crisis – EU Sanctions Update

UPDATE:

Week of September 26, 2022

UPDATE:

Week of September 19, 2022

UPDATE:

Week of September 5, 2022

  • European Commission to Propose Price Cap on Russian Gas: The European Commission will propose a price cap on Russian gas, alongside measures including a mandatory EU cut in electricity use and a ceiling on the revenue of non-gas power generators, the President of the European Commission said on Wednesday.(https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/eu-propose-price-cap-russian-gas-von-der-leyen-says-2022-09-07/).
  • Cap the Cost of All Gas Imports to EU, Belgian PM Says: The European Union should impose a radical plan to cut the cost of energy by capping the price paid for gas imported from anywhere else in the world, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in an interview with POLITICO. De Croo’s proposal would go far beyond the Commission’s plan to limit price paid for Russian gas. (https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-gas-de-croo-belgium-cap-price-eu-von-der-leyen-brussels-ukraine-war-inflation-energy-cost/).
  • EU Plans ‘Revenue Cap’ on Power Firms and Mandatory Electricity Savings at Peak Hours: A draft EU law for the first time introduces obligatory demand reduction targets for electricity consumption, and places “a revenue limit” on power companies making windfall profits from the energy crisis, according to a leaked proposal seen by EURACTIV. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/leak-eu-plans-revenue-cap-on-power-firms-mandatory-electricity-savings-at-peak-hours/).
  • European Commission Proposes Second EUR 5 Billion Tranche of Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine: The European Commission has proposed a further EUR 5 billion in macro-financial assistance (MFA) loans to Ukraine as the second part of the exceptional MFA package of up to EUR 9 billion announced in the Commission’s communication of 18 May 2022 and endorsed by the European Council of 23-24 June 2022.(https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5373).
  • Commission Proposes Full Suspension of Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia: The Commission is proposing to fully suspend the EU’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia. The suspension is in response to increased risks and threats to the Union’s security interests and the national security of the Member States as result of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5346).
  • EU-Ukraine Association Council Adopts New Agreements: The EU-Ukraine Association Council took place on September 5th, the Council adopted a new agreement with new agreements further strengthening cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-ministerial-meetings/2022/09/05/).
  • Trust in the EU on the Rise:  The Eurobarometer reported a rise in the trust in the EU amid support for the EU’s response to Russia invasion of Ukraine and energy policies – 78% of Europeans support economic sanctions imposed by the EU on the Russian government, companies and individuals. Almost seven in ten interviewees (68%) are in favor of financing of supply and delivery of military equipment to Ukraine. The absolute majority of respondents are satisfied with the response of both the EU (57%) and their national government (55%). (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5266).  
  • New Agreements on Closer Cooperation Between the EU and Ukraine on Customs and Taxation: The Commission has today signed two agreements between the EU and Ukraine which pave the way for Ukraine’s participation in the EU’s Customs and Fiscalis programs. This means that Ukraine will be able to take part in the activities of both programmes with EU Member States and other countries. (https://taxation-customs.ec.europa.eu/news/ukraine-new-agreements-closer-cooperation-between-eu-and-ukraine-customs-and-taxation-2022-09-05_en).
  • Ukraine to join the Common Transit Convention and the Convention on the Simplification of Formalities in Trade in Goods on 1 October 2022: Ukraine has been formally invited to join to the EU-Common Transit Countries’ Convention on a Common Transit Procedure and the Convention on the Simplification of Formalities in Trade in Goods. (https://taxation-customs.ec.europa.eu/news/customs-ukraine-join-common-transit-convention-and-convention-simplification-formalities-trade-goods-2022-09-05_en).  
  • Ukraine Wants More Russia Sanctions but Brussels Can’t Help Anymore: Diplomats and officials say nobody wants to talk about a new sanctions package, after Hungary stalled the last one. (https://www.politico.eu/article/call-for-more-sanctions-against-russia-falls-on-deaf-ears-in-brussels/).  
  • Hungary Backs Down on Push to Lift EU Sanctions on 3 Russian Oligarchs: Hungary has, for now, dropped its demand to lift sanctions imposed by the European Union on three Russian oligarchs — a push that had threatened to derail the process for renewing the penalties, as POLITICO had reported on Tuesday. Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of EU envoys, the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU reached an agreement with the Hungarians to avoid a blockade on the extension process by postponing the discussion on the three names to the next time the list must be reviewed in a couple of months. (https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-backs-down-on-delisting-russian-oligarchs-for-now/).
  • Poland Joins Baltic Pledge To Ban Most Russians By Late September: On September 8, 2022, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania have announced a “common approach” to ban access to their countries for most Russians with EU visas from later this month, moving all four beyond the curbs recently agreed by all 27 EU members. These measures address imminent public policy and security threats and restrict the entry into the Schengen area for the Russian citizens traveling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes. However, the measures are “not an outright entry ban and commonly agreed legitimate exceptions will remain in force for dissidents, humanitarian cases,” as well as a handful of other circumstances including diplomatic missions and familial links. (https://www.rferl.org/a/poand-baltics-ban-russians/32024490.html).

UPDATE:

Week of August 29, 2022

UPDATE:

Week of August 22, 2022

  • The EU Council Announced that 8 Countries Aligned Themselves with the Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1355: On August 25, 2022, the EU Council announced that the candidate countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Ukraine, the potential candidate country Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, aligned themselves with the Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1355. The Decision extends the list of persons, entities and bodies subject to restrictive measures for their role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/08/25/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-in-respect-of-actions-undermining-or-threatening-the-territorial-integrity-sovereignty-and-independence-of-ukra/).
  • The President of the EU Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Addressed the 2nd Crimea Platform Summit: On 23 August 2022 the EU Council President Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen addressed the 2nd Crimea Platform Summit. The leaders declared that the EU does not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and is solid in its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They stated that sanctions are critically undermining Putin’s war machine and the Russian economy and the European Union will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.  (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/08/23/address-by-president-michel-to-the-2nd-crimea-platform-summit-23-august-2022/).
  • EU Leaders Continue Discussion of the Russian Visa Restrictions in View of the Upcoming EU Foreign Ministers Meeting on August 31: Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský clarified that “no one is calling for [a] general ban on Russians traveling to Europe — we are talking about Russian tourists and tourist visas,” noting that his country had not stopped issuing visas to Russians for humanitarian reasons. Meanwhile, the U.K., Defense Secretary Ben Wallace suggested on Wednesday that Britain may tighten visa conditions for Russians, but also expressed doubts about a total tourist ban. (https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/brussels-playbook/economic-trouble-hungary-vs-commission-greek-spying-latest/).
  • Bulgaria Risks a Relapse into its Addiction to Russia’s Gazprom: A caretaker government that assumed power this month is sparking fears that Sofia will revert to buying its energy supplies from Gazprom after a recent push to break free from dependence on Russia. It’s a stark U-turn from the short-lived government of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, which had an unusually confrontational position on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, but fell after a vote of no confidence at the end of June. This week, the Energy Minister Rossen Hristov said Bulgaria had no choice but to restart talks with Gazprom. (https://www.politico.eu/article/bulgaria-risks-a-relapse-into-its-addiction-to-russias-gazprom/).
  • Spot Gas Prices Rose to a High of €292 per Megawatt Hour on Monday: The price surge was triggered by Gazprom’s announcement that it would stop supply through the Nord Stream pipeline — again — at the end of the month for three days of “maintenance” for a gas turbine. Europe and Russia have been bickering over the issue of gas turbines. Gazprom has insisted that Western sanctions are to blame for Nord Stream operating at reduced capacity — saying that one of the turbines required could not be transported back to Russia after maintenance in Canada. (https://www.politico.eu/article/gazprom-russia-schedules-three-day-maintenance-at-nord-stream-europe/).
  • Vice President of the German Parliament Calls for Nord Stream 2 to be Started: Vice president of the German parliament Wolfgang Kubicki said that Germany should allow the blocked Nord Stream 2 pipeline to begin pumping Russian natural gas so “people do not have to freeze in winter and that our industry does not suffer serious damage.” He said there is “no sound reason not to open Nord Stream 2,” because Germany is already getting gas through the older Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream pipeline. Several FDP members criticized Kubicki’s remarks. “Nord Stream 2 is dead,” said Marie-Agnes Strack Zimmermann, an FDP lawmaker who chairs the Bundestag’s defense committee. (https://www.politico.eu/article/vice-president-of-the-german-parliament-calls-for-activation-of-nord-stream-2/).
  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi Calls for EU Price Cap on Russian Gas: European Union countries should agree a cap on the price of gas imported from Russia to help ease the burden of rising prices on businesses and households, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday. Draghi accused Russia of using gas supplies as a weapon against Ukraine and its European allies after its invasion six months ago, a charge Moscow denies. Draghi said the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of EU leaders and he also called for steps to be taken to decouple the gas price from the price charged for electricity. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/italys-draghi-calls-for-eu-price-cap-on-russian-gas/).
  • French Transport Minister Demands Probe into TotalEnergies’ Reported Links to Russian army Refueling: French Transport Minister Clément Beaune on Thursday called for an investigation on whether gas exported by oil giant TotalEnergies has been used to fuel fighter jets used by the Russian army in Ukraine. The call follows a report from Le Monde with the NGO Global Witness, which links the French firm’s remaining activities in Russia with refueling operations in military bases in southwestern Russia. “This is an extremely serious matter,” Beaune told France 2, “so there needs to be a check on whether, willingly or not, there’s been a bypass on sanctions or a diversion of the energy that a company, French or not, would produce.” (https://www.politico.eu/article/france-transport-minister-clement-beaune-probe-totalenergies-russia-army-jet-refueling/).
  • The Hague Seeks Exemption from EU Sanctions against Russia: The Dutch city of The Hague said it would ask for a temporary exemption of EU sanctions against Russia, as it struggles to find a replacement for its contract with Russian gas supplier Gazprom in time. Sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine order governments and other public bodies to end existing contracts with Russian companies by October 10. The city said it held an EU-wide tender in June and July, but failed to attract any bids from potential suppliers. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/dutch-city-hague-seeks-exemption-eu-sanctions-against-russia-2022-08-25/).
  • Sanctions Effectively Halt Russian Seaborne Coal Exports: Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Suek JSC, Russia’s largest thermal coal mining company, has been unable to ship coal since mid-August as a result of the EU’s ban on Russian coal purchases and subsequent bans on services that would permit the shipment of Russian coal. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-24/russian-seaborne-coal-exports-effectively-halted-by-eu-ban).

UPDATE:

August 08, 2022

  • EU High Representative Makes Declaration on the Anniversary of the Fraudulent Presidential Elections in Belarus: On 8 August 2022, Josep Borell, the EU High Representative made a declaration on the second anniversary of the 9 August 2020 fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus. The High Representative called on the authorities in Belarus to fully adhere to the principles of democracy and the rule of law, respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and act in compliance with international law and Belarus’ own commitments, including by stopping its collaboration in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Mr. Borell also called for the immediate and unconditional release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, and for the cessation of repression. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/08/08/belarus-declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-second-anniversary-of-the-fraudulent-presidential-elections/).
  • Commission Approves EUR 149 Million Romanian State Aid Scheme: The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a EUR 149 million Romanian scheme made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility to support the production of renewable hydrogen. The measure aims to contribute to the development of renewable hydrogen in line with the objectives of the EU Hydrogen Strategy and the EU Green Deal. The scheme will also contribute to the objectives of the REPowerEU Plan to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4865).
  •  Commission Approves Italian State Aid Scheme: The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, an Italian scheme made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility to support the construction and the operation of new or converted biomethane production plants. The measure is part of Italy’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase its share of renewable energies. The scheme will also contribute to the objectives of the REPowerEU Plan to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4803).
  • EU High Representative Condemns Military Activities Around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant:According to the High Representative, the military activities around Zaporizhzhia is a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms. The High Representative also said the International Atomic Energy Agency must gain access. (https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1555858270589538305).
  • Four More Russian Billionaires Lose Cypriot Citizenship Following EU Sanctions: Authorities in Nicosia have announced that four more Russian billionaires will lose their citizenship in Cyprus, acquired through the Golden Passport scheme, after they have been blacklisted by the EU following the latter’s sanctions imposed on Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. (https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/four-more-russian-billionaires-lose-cypriot-citizenship-following-eu-sanctions/).
  • German Government Stands by Russia Sanctions Amid High Energy Prices: In a press conference, a German government spokesman stated, “[w]e face difficult months ahead…but it is clear that we stand firmly on the side of Ukraine and we stand behind the sanctions that we agreed together with the European Union and the international community“. The spokesperson also dismissed the possibility of approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-stands-by-russia-sanctions-despite-gas-crisis-govt-spokesperson-2022-08-08/).
  • Siemens Energy Rebuts Russian Statements Regarding Repaired Nord Stream Turbine: Amid claims by Russian officials that western sanctions are preventing the return of the repaired Nord Stream 1 turbine to Russia, Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch denied any technical or paperwork restrictions were holding up delivery of the repaired turbine to Russia. (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/08/russia-gas-siemens-energy-ceo-says-turbine-dispute-is-not-our-fault.html).
  • Siemens Energy Blames Wind Down of Russia Business for Significant Losses: On Monday, Siemens Energy attributed a 200 million euro ($204 million) charge related to the wind-down of its Russian business, but noted it was still ready to deliver the repaired Nord Stream 1 turbine to Russia. (https://www.reuters.com/business/siemens-energy-warns-deeper-net-loss-over-russia-restructuring-2022-08-08/).
  • Netherlands-based Veon Ltd. May Halt Network Rollout in Russia as a Result of Technology Transfer Restrictions: In an interview after Veon’s Earnings report,  Chief Executive Officer Kaan Terzioglu noted that as a result of equipment-related restrictions, “[t]here is no doubt that the deployment will slow down and almost has a risk of coming to a standstill.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-08/sanctions-may-freeze-veon-s-network-rollout-in-russia-ceo-says).
  • Polish Border Area Between Belarus and Kaliningrad Faces Security Alert: On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal published a profile on the Suwalki gap, a border region in northern Poland between the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus. NATO officials now view the area as a security threat, as Russia expands its territorial ambitions due to the war in Ukraine. Locals living in towns in the Sulwaki gap interviewed for the piece expressed increase security concerns and are prepared to leave in a moment’s notice. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-poland-lithuania-kaliningrad-nato-suwalki-gap-11659719169).
  • European Economic Anxiety Increases: The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that, despite a brief respite in the summer tourism season, European governments are prepared for a coming downturn, due in part to energy restrictions and sanctions on Russia. Polling indicates a growing regional split, with Eastern EU members expressing a will to maintain sanctions no matter the cost, and Western EU countries growing more concerned about the economic fallout of the policies. However, EU experts like Thorsten Benner, head of the Global Public Policy Institute, believe that the EU will maintain sanctions on Russia as long as the US expresses support for them. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-steels-itself-to-maintain-economic-pressure-on-russia-despite-pain-11659957048).

UPDATE:

August 05, 2022

UPDATE:

August 04, 2022

  • EU Imposes Restrictive Measures on Viktor and Oleksandr Yanukovych: The Council of the European Union today decided to impose restrictive measures on two additional individuals in response to the ongoing unjustified and unprovoked Russian military aggression against Ukraine. The Council added the pro-Russian former President of Ukraine Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr Viktorovych Yanukovych to the list of persons, entities and bodies subject to restrictive measures. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/08/04/russia-s-aggression-against-ukraine-the-eu-imposes-restrictive-measures-on-viktor-and-oleksandr-yanukovych/).
  • Commission Welcomes International Condemnation of Russia for Violation of Aviation Rules and EU Sanctions: On Thursday, the Commission welcomed the decision by the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”) to call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its infractions of international aviation rules, in order to preserve the safety and security of civil aviation. The ICAO decision refers to the violation of Ukraine’s sovereign airspace in the context of Russia’s war of aggression, and to the deliberate and continued violation of several safety requirements in an attempt by the Russian government to circumvent EU sanctions. These actions include illegally double-registering in Russia aircraft stolen from leasing companies, and permitting Russian airlines to operate these aircraft on international routes without a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, which is the necessary safety certificate. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4746).
  • Commission Approves EUR 31 Million Investment to Support Economic Recovery of Four Polish Regions: The Commission has approved an investment of more than €31 million through REACT-EU under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for four Polish regions to strengthen their economy and the health and social infrastructure along with measures to welcome people fleeing the war in Ukraine. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_22_4863). 
  • Commission Approves EUR 407 Million Italian Scheme to Support Companies of Certain Municipalities in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: The European Commission has approved a €407 million Italian scheme to support companies active in the municipalities affected by the earthquakes of 2009 and 2016 in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework and Temporary Crisis Framework. The scheme will be open to companies of all sizes that are located in certain municipalities of the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_22_4863). 
  • Russia’s Gazprom Says Other Nord Stream Gas Turbines Also Face Sanctions Block: Amid a standoff on the return of a repaired gas turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and allegations from Russia that Western sanctions are preventing its return to Russia, Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom said on 4 August that the risk of a sanctions impact related to the maintenance of key Nord Stream gas turbines also concerned three units currently awaiting overhaul. (https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/kremlin-says-gazprom-would-like-nord-stream-turbine-back-needs-documents-2022-08-04/).
  • Estonia Calls for EU-Wide Ban on Visas for Russian Citizens: During a recent trip to Kyiv, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinslau called on the EU to add a total ban on EU visas for Russian citizens in the next round of sanctions targeting the Kremlin. To date, certain EU member states have declined to issue Russian visas, but no bloc-wide action on the issue has been taken. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-04/estonia-s-top-diplomat-wants-eu-wide-ban-on-russian-visas).

UPDATE:

August 03, 2022

  • Scholz Says Russia Is Blocking Shipment Of Turbine Needed To Hike Gas Flows: After Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Gazprom continues to lack requisite documentation for reinstallation of the repaired Nord Stream 1 turbine received from Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Moscow of purposely holding up the delivery of a turbine by refusing to submit the paperwork needed to transport the item to Russia, where its installation will allow for increased gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. (https://www.rferl.org/a/germany-scholz-turbine-russia-nord-stream/31971861.html).
  • Finnish Customs Reports Technical Equipment Confiscated at Russia-Finland Border: On Wednesday, Finnish Customs announced that it recently intercepted goods that “can promote Russia’s industrial and military capabilities, such as aids used in navigation“, along with sonar, drones, and chartplotters at the Finnish border. Director of Enforcement Mikko Gronberg did not provide the nationality of the persons transporting the items, or specifics on the number of violations committed. (https://yle.fi/news/3-12561927).
  • Bulgaria Negotiating with Gazprom Regarding Future Gas Shipments: Interfax reported on Wednesday that Bulgargaz is in negotiations with Gazprom to resume shipments of natural gas, though it is seeking to revise the contract under which it previously received gas from Gazprom. The Russian gas company shut off shipments to Bulgaria in April due to its refusal to pay for gas in rubles. (https://www.interfax.ru/business/855052) (article in Russian).
  • Societe Generale Posts Second Quarter Earnings Showing Loss of Russian Business: On Wednesday, French bank Societe Generale reported a net loss of 1.48 billion Euros, with a 3.3 billion Euro loss due to its exit from Russian operations, for the second quarter of 2022. However, the result is better than the 2.85 billion loss analysts expected, as every unit grew in the second quarter. (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/03/socgen-earnings-q2-2022.html).
  • French Opposition Leader Marine Le Pen Opposes Sanctions Regime: During a press conference on Wednesday, French far right leader Marine Le Pen called sanctions on Russia “useless”, since they are making ordinary Europeans suffer while the Russian economy “is not on its knees.” She warned that, if they are not lifted soon, “Europe is going to face a blackout, notably on the question of Russian gas imports.” (https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20220803-french-far-right-leader-le-pen-calls-for-an-end-to-sanctions-against-russia).

UPDATE:

August 02, 2022

UPDATE:

August 01, 2022

  • Gazprom Stops Latvia’s Gas in Latest Russian Cut to EU: Russian energy giant Gazprom says it has suspended gas supplies to Latvia – the latest EU country to experience such action amid tensions over Ukraine. Gazprom accused Latvia of violating conditions of purchase, but gave no details of that alleged violation. Latvia relies on neighboring Russia for natural gas imports, but its government says it does not expect Gazprom’s move to have a major impact. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-62359890).
  • EU Council Issues a Summary of EU Sanctions Against Russia: On 1 August 2022, the Council of the European Union Published a summary of the different types of sanctions adopted by the EU against Russia. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/sanctions/restrictive-measures-against-russia-over-ukraine/sanctions-against-russia-explained/).
  • European Commission Disburses First Tranche of the New EUR 1 Billion Macro-Financial Assistance for Ukraine: The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has today disbursed the first half (€500 million) of a new €1 billion macro-financial assistance (MFA) operation for Ukraine. The second tranche (another €500 million) will be disbursed tomorrow, 2 August. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4783).
  • Commission Approves €181.5 Million Latvian Schemes to Support  Companies in Context of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: The European Commission has approved two Latvian schemes with a total budget of €181.5 million to support small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies across sectors in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the Commission on 23 March 2022. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4614).
  • Commission Approves €600,000 Flemish Scheme to Support the Fishery Sector in the Context of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: The European Commission has approved a €600,000 Flemish scheme to support the fishery sector in Flanders in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework, adopted by the Commission on 23 March 2022 and amended on 20 July 2022. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_22_4802).
  • Finland Under Critics for Being the Entry Point of Russian in Europe The Finnish government is coming under increasing public and political pressure to close the EU’s eastern border with Russia, and put a stop to an apparent sanctions loophole. Russia relaxed its COVID-related border restrictions mid-July, meaning for the first time since before the pandemic, Russians with Schengen visas can now legally cross the border by bus or car, even though they’re banned from travelling to the EU in planes and trains. (https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2022/07/30/the-russians-have-started-coming-finland-considers-tourist-visa-ban).
  • Cyprus Tourism Rebounds Despite Reduction in Tourists from Sanctions-Hit Russia: This year, Cyprus expected 800,000 Russian tourists; the Russian market, however, “was wiped out from one day to the next” following EU Sanctions. From January to June, Cyprus still recorded 1.2 million visitors, nearly five times the level of last year. But that is still 25 percent down on the same period of 2019, when 1.63 million tourists came to Cyprus. (https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220731-cyprus-tourism-rebounds-despite-sanctions-hit-russia-plunge).
  • EU Member States Slash Purchase Of Russian Gas By 50% Since War Started: The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell on Friday lashed out at Russia for hurling unsubstantiated claims that it has been supplying the European countries with “as much gas as possible amid the energy crisis“. Borrell, in an interview with the German public broadcaster DW, said that the EU member states have slashed their energy imports by an estimated 50% since Moscow launched its all-out invasion of the Ukraine. (https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/eu-member-states-slash-purchase-of-russian-gas-by-50-percent-since-war-started-josep-borrell-articleshow.html).  
  • Poland Supports Banning Issuance of Visas for All Russians: The Polish government fully supports a proposal by the Estonian authorities for a European Union-wide entry ban on Russian tourists and other types of travelers from this country as a part of sanctions imposed on Russia due to the latter’s war in Ukraine. (https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/poland-supports-banning-issuance-of-visas-for-all-russians/).
  • EU Cannot Completely Ban Issuance of Schengen Visas to Russian Nationals: The Commission of the European Union has said that it cannot decide to limit the issuance of Schengen visas to Russian citizens after the sanctions are aimed at the Russian authorities as well as the elite; however, such measures can be taken independently by the EU Member States. (https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/eu-cannot-completely-ban-issuance-of-schengen-visas-to-russian-nationals/)  

UPDATE:

July 29, 2022

  • EU Commission Issues FAQ on Medicine and Medical Devices: On 29 July 2022, the Commission issued as FAQ on medicines and medical devices replying to 11 different questions. (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/business_economy_euro/banking_and_finance/documents/faqs-sanctions-russia-medical_en.pdf).
  • Commission Approves EUR 2.9 Billion Italian Scheme to Support Companies in the Context of Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The European Commission has approved a €2.9 billion Italian scheme to support the liquidity needs of companies in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to provide liquidity support to small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps. Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of (i) guarantees covering part of new eligible loans granted by commercial banks; and (ii) direct grants covering the guarantee premiums. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4723).  
  • Finland Largest Parliamentary Group Backs Limitation on Issuance of Tourist Visas to Russian: The largest group in the Finnish Parliament would be prepared to limit the issuance of tourist visas to Russians, reports Helsingin Sanomat. Finland has continued to issue the visas as usual despite the war of aggression waged by Russia in Ukraine, unlike for example Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With the EU prohibiting Russian aircraft from using its airspace, Finland is offering Russians a gateway to other parts of Europe. (https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/politics/21930-finland-s-largest-parliamentary-groups-back-limiting-visas-issued-to-russians.html).
  • EU Sanctions Are Not Targeting Ordinary Russians, EU Commission Says: An EU Commission Spokesperson stressed to Helsingin Sanomat that the EU has targeted its sanctions primarily and specifically at the central government and elites in Russia, rather than ordinary Russians. This statement follows a question on a possible EU-wide decision to suspend the issuance of tourist visas to Russia. According to the Commission, the EU’s visa rules do not allow for the complete suspension of visa issuance and applications for Schengen visas should be evaluated and processed by each member state on a case-by-case basis. (https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/21956-eu-s-sanctions-not-targeted-at-ordinary-russians-european-commission-tells-hs.html).
  • Orban Suggests New EU-Hungary Gas Deal This Summer: On Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said to local state radio that Hungary is “negotiating with the Russians … this deal can be signed during the summer, and then we will be safe…Hungary will have enough gas,” as part of a deal that would reportedly provide an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas to Hungary.  This follows a visit last week by Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó to Moscow for meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (https://www.politico.eu/article/orban-hungary-to-strike-new-gas-deal-with-russia-this-summer/).
  • New York Times Profiles German Energy Conservation Efforts: On Friday, The New York Times published an article detailing measures Germans are taking to conserve energy, including shutting off traffic lights, reducing air conditioning, and brewing less beer, among other activities. However, municipal officials were unsure if these efforts would stave off sharper reductions in Russian gas imports, which would severely damage the German economy. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/world/europe/europe-germany-ukraine-energy.html).

UPDATE:

July 28, 2022

UPDATE:

July 27, 2022

UPDATE:

July 26, 2022

UPDATE:

July 25, 2022

UPDATE:

July 22, 2022

  • Commission Issues Q&A on 7th Sanction Package: Following the adoption of the 7thpackage of EU sanctions, the European Commission issued a Q&A detailing inter alia the impact of the measures on agrifood products, the exception to the transaction ban with state-owned enterprises, the scope of the gold ban, and the situation of dual use export controls and medical and pharmaceutical products. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/api/files/document/print/en/qanda_22_4643/QANDA_22_4643_EN.pdf).
  • Hungary’s Top Diplomat Visits Moscow to Negotiate Gas Supplies: Hungary’s foreign minister visited Russia in to negotiate the supply of 700m cubic meters of gas. According to the foreign minister “the most important thing for us is to ensure Hungary’s energy security”. While the EU imposed an oil ban, there is no gas ban under current EU sanctions. (https://www.euronews.com/2022/07/21/hungarys-top-diplomat-visits-moscow-to-negotiate-gas-supplies-despite-eu-sanctions).
  • London Metal Stock Exchange says EU Sanctions do not Apply to UMMC: After the imposition by the EU of sanctions against Andrei Kozitsyn, former head of Urals Mining and Metals Co (UMMC), LME considers that the sanctions do not extend to UMMC itself because Mr. Kozitsyn does not own or control UMMC for the purpose of the EU sanctions. Although the LME referred to Kozitsyn as the head of UMMC, a press release dated July 19 on UMMC’s website said that Kozitsyn has stepped down as chief executive and was replaced by the company’s Chairman Elfat Ismagilov. (https://www.mining.com/web/lme-says-eu-sanctions-on-russian-metals-baron-do-not-apply-to-ummc/).
  • Germany Drafts Plan for Gas Importer Bailout: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the German government would take a 30 percent stake in energy giant Uniper in an effort to avert a “Lehman Brothers-style crisis.” Uniper is the largest importer of Russian gas in Germany. Gas prices in Germany have risen sharply since the country decided to cut reliance on Russian gas. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/22/olaf-scholz-announces-bailout-for-germanys-largest-russian-gas-importer-uniper).
  • Dutch Government Accused of Delaying Implementation of EU Sanctions: According to Dutch media, the Dutch government waited more than a month to implement important sanctions against Russia due to a wait-and-see attitude and a lack of coordination. (https://nltimes.nl/2022/07/22/dutch-govt-waited-month-implementing-sanctions-russia).
  • Collapse of the Italian Government Casts Doubts on Italy’s Future Stance Toward Russia:After Prime Minister Mario Draghi stepped down this week, Italy will have new elections in the fall. Analysts believe that these elections are likely to favor a far-right government, a political bloc that has traditionally been more sympathetic toward Russia across Europe. Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, which currently leads in polls, has gone out of her way to distance herself from Putin, however. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/07/22/italy-meloni-draghi-russia/).

UPDATE:

July 21, 2022

UPDATE:

July 20, 2022

  • Commission Amends the Temporary Crisis Framework: On Wednesday, the European Commission adopted an amendment to the State aid Temporary Crisis Framework, which enables Member States to use the flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The updated framework Member States can set up schemes for investments in renewable energy and can support investments to phase out from fossil fuels. In addition the framework also expands on the existing types of support that Member States can give to companies in need and further clarified the conditions under which Member States may grant aid to cover the recent increase in gas and electricity costs for companies.  (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4622).

  • EU Takes Steps to Invest Almost €1.2 Billion to Support 61 Defense Industrial Cooperation Projects: On Wednesday, the Commission announced plans to grant a total EU funding of almost €1.2 billion supporting 61 collaborative defense research and development projects selected following the first ever calls for proposals under the European Defense Fund. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4595).

  • RT Evades EU Sanctions by Launching New Sites: Though the EU has imposed sanctions on Russian state-funded media outlet RT, the company created new sites in German, Spanish, and French as “carbon copies” of previous RT sites in several EU countries. As of July 19, these sites are still accessible in the EU. (https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-europe-sanctions-social-media-rt/).

UPDATE:

July 14, 2022

  •  EU and Azerbaijan Sign Agreement on Gas Supply: EU President Ursula von der Leyen and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a Memorandum of Understanding doubling the supply of gas from Azerbaijan to the European Union. The Memorandum also lays the ground for cooperation on renewable energy and commitments to reduce methane emissions through the gas supply chain.  (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_22_4583).

  •  EU Shipowners Scramble to Move Russian Oil Before Bans Enter Into Force: Though EU sanctions that ban EU vessels from carrying Russian oil come into effect on December 5, EU tankers are still moving oil; Greek tankers moved about half of Russian crude volumes in May and June, according to Lloyds List Intelligence. EU tanker owners have been approached by Chinese purchasers to sell their boats before the ban enters into force, as China and India increase their consumption of Russian oil. Some EU tanker owners note that they may be forced to suspend part of their fleet after the ban begins. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-shipowners-race-to-move-russian-oil-before-sanctions-kick-in-11658055600).

  • Swedish Retailer H&M Leaving Russia: On Monday, Swedish apparel retailer H&M announced that it would be winding down its business in Russia. The move will cost the company $200 million and impact 6,000 staff, as Russia was the company’s sixth-largest market. H&M previously announced that it would be suspending Russian operations in March. (https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/hm-says-wind-down-russia-2022-07-18/).

  • EU Clarifies that it has No Sanctions on Russian Fertilizer, Food: EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that the EU sanctions do not and will not contain any direct restrictions on Russian exports of fertilizers, foods, and any payment for any of these items. The statement came after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. (https://tass.com/world/1481549).

UPDATE:

July 14, 2022

UPDATE:

July 12, 2022

  • Bloomberg Reports Possible New EU Sanctions on Russia in Coming Weeks:Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that it expects a new package of sanctions on Russia from the EU in coming weeks. The agency previously reported that the new package may include restrictions on gold imports, measures to bolster the effectiveness of previous sanctions, and an updated list of sanctioned parties. It expects that an oil price cap will not be included in this new package. (https://news.yahoo.com/eu-propose-sanctions-package-against-105300373.html).

  • European Space Agency Terminates Cooperation with Russia on Mars Mission:The European Space Agency announced on Tuesday that it would be suspending cooperation with its Russian counterpart on the ExoMars mission to Mars. The ExoMars launch, which was planned as Europe’s first Mars mission, was delayed from March to September of this year due to the invasion of Ukraine, but the Agency formally suspended all cooperation in the Tuesday announcement. The Agency will have more details on the future of the Mission on July 20. (https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/12/world/exomars-terminated-russia-european-space-agency-scn/index.html).   

UPDATE:

July 11, 2022

  • Russia shuts down Nord Stream Gas Pipeline: Russia has reduced Nord Stream gas exports to Europe for a long-planned, routine 10-day repair. The Nord Stream pipeline transports gas from Russia to Germany. German officials, including the Energy Minister, fear Russia might not restart the flow of gas in an attempt to destabilize Europe. Alternative supply sources are contemplated by Europeans including Norway, Azerbaijan and the U.S. but change will take time to implement. According to Germany’s energy regulator, “current stocks will only last for one or two months”. (https://www.dw.com/en/russia-shuts-down-nord-stream-gas-pipeline-for-repairs/a-62427679).

  • Commission Answers Parliamentary Question on Import Ban on Fishery Products: On July 8, 2022, EU High Representative Josep Borrell replied to a parliamentary question requesting an import ban on all fishery products from Russia. The High Representative underlined that EU sanctions are designed not to target food and agricultural products and stated that, against this backdrop of ensuring food security, with regard to seafood, the EU has imposed very limited restrictions.(https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001875_EN.html).

  •  EU Commissioner for Justice States that Commission Does Not Collect Data on Golden Passports: Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders replied to a parliamentary question inquiring on the number of golden passports received by Russian and Belarussian nationals on July 8. The term golden passport relates to the systematic granting of EU citizenship in return for payments or investments by certain EU Member States. According to the answer, the Commission does not collect statistics on the number of naturalizations granted to Russian and Belarusian nationals based on such schemes. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001276_EN.html).

  • Russia Shuts Kazakhstan-EU Oil Pipeline: On July 5, 2022, a district court in Novorossiysk, Russia’s biggest Black Sea port, ordered the shutting off of a pipeline exporting oil from Kazakhstan to the EU for a month. This decision follows a phone conversation between Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and European Council President Charles Michel during which Kazakhstan announced its support in helping the EU overcome its current energy crisis. (https://www.dw.com/en/russia-targets-eu-cutting-off-kazakhstans-oil-exports/a-62408644).  

  • European Commission Consults Member States on the Amendment of State aid Temporary Crisis Framework: In light of the prolonged invasion by Russia of Ukraine and of its direct and indirect effects on the economy and on the energy situation, the Commission is assessing the need to adjust the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework. The Temporary Crisis Framework enables Member States to use the flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Possible amendments include the adjustment of maximum aid ceilings, additional measures facilitating the investments in renewable energy and measures to further accelerate the diversification of energy supplies. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_4469).

  • Lithuania Expands Restrictions on Trade to Kaliningrad: On July 11, 2022, Lithuania prohibited the transit to Kaliningrad through its territory to additional goods including concrete, wood, alcohol and alcohol-based industrial chemicals. This prohibition follows similar measures previously imposed by Lithuania on the transport of iron, steel and metals despite threats of retaliation from Moscow. On Monday, the Kaliningrad regional governor proposed a total ban on overland movement of goods between Russia and the three EU Baltic member states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a move which could divert Russian freight from their ports to those in Kaliningrad. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/lithuania-widens-curbs-on-kaliningrad-trade-despite-russian-warning/).

  • Abramovich Contests Russian Sanctions Before EU Court: On July 11 2022, a summary of the application brought by Roman Abramovich against EU sanctions was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The application alleges an infringement of the right to effective judicial protection and the administration’s obligation to state reasons, a manifest error of assessment, infringement of the principle of proportionality and the principle of equal treatment, and an infringement of fundamental rights and unjustified interference in the applicant’s fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Mr. Abramovich requested the annulment of the sanctions as applied to him and the provisional payment by the Council of one million euros to the charitable foundation for victims of conflicts which is being established in connection with the sale of Chelsea FC, due to the non-material damage Mr. Abramovich claims to have suffered (https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/spain-energy-minister-urges-utilities-reduce-lng-imports-russia-2022-07-11/).

  • EU Working to Step Up Sanctions Enforcement: On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal released a summary of recent EU proposals to improve sanctions enforcement. The proposals include a centralized sanctions enforcement body, like the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control; an expansion of sanctions targets to include family members, making it more difficult for targets to transfer assets to a non-sanctioned relative; and a reduction in the cutoff of the amount of any company that a sanctioned oligarch can hold from 50 percent to 25 percent. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-works-to-tighten-russia-sanctions-enforcement-11657371600).

  • France Readies for Russian Gas Cutoff: Speaking on Sunday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated that French government was readying for a total cutoff of Russian gas supplies, calling such a shutoff “the most likely scenario.” He said that France was looking into public awareness campaigns to urge businesses and homes to voluntarily reduce gas consumption, build infrastructure to increase natural gas imports from other sources, and, as a last resort, requiring companies to lower production to save on energy consumption. France imports 17 percent of its natural gas from Russia, less than many of its neighboring countries. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russian-gas-cutoff-most-likely-scenario-french-finance-minister-2022-07-10/).

  • EU Sanctions Create a Brain-Drain from Northern Europe: According to business advisor Chris Devonshire-Ellis, the combined forces of EU sanctions, the prospect of a harsh winter, and no guarantee of adequate energy supplies are pushing northern Europeans to consider relocation to southern Europe. Devonshire-Ellis notes that industry groups are pointing to sanctions as the reason for slowing industrial production in Europe. (https://www.asiabriefing.com/news/2022/07/eu-sanctions-policy-is-leading-to-dark-days-for-northern-europe/).

UPDATE:

July 08, 2022

  • Russia Shuts Kazakhstan-EU Oil Pipeline: On July 5, 2022, a district court in Novorossiysk, Russia’s biggest Black Sea port, ordered the shutting off of a pipeline exporting oil from Kazakhstan to the EU for a month. This decision follows a phone conversation between Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and European Council President Charles Michel during which Kazakhstan announced its support in helping the EU overcome its current energy crisis. (https://www.dw.com/en/russia-targets-eu-cutting-off-kazakhstans-oil-exports/a-62408644).  

  • Germany Urges Canada to Release Sanctioned Pipeline Turbine: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck released a statement on Thursday calling on Canada to release a turbine needed to repair the Nord Stream I pipeline, saying, “I’ll be the first one who will fight for a further strong EU sanction package, but strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy.” The part is currently being withheld due to Canadian sanctions on the item; without the part, Germany may need to ration energy consumption in the winter. (https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/germanys-habeck-urges-canada-to-help-thwart-putins-gas-excuses).

  • Germany Urges Canada to Release Sanctioned Pipeline Turbine: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck released a statement on Thursday calling on Canada to release a turbine needed to repair the Nord Stream I pipeline, saying, “I’ll be the first one who will fight for a further strong EU sanction package, but strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy.” The part is currently being withheld due to Canadian sanctions on the item; without the part, Germany may need to ration energy consumption in the winter. (https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/germanys-habeck-urges-canada-to-help-thwart-putins-gas-excuses).

  • EU Parliament Consents to Making Sanction Violations an EU Crime: On July 7, 2022, the European Parliament gave its consent to adding the violation of Union restrictive measures to the list of EU crimes. This would allow the Commission to propose a directive defining the scope and the criminal penalties for the violation of sanctions across Member States in a consistent manner. The measure still need to be formally adopted by the Council of the European Union. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2022-0295_EN.pdf).

  • Dutch Port Exemplifies Struggles of Sanctions Enforcement: On Friday, The New York Times published a profile of enforcement administrators at the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Officials interviewed for the piece discussed the difficulty in determining which transactions were restricted, and which ones were permitted, noting that the port was one of Europe’s major points of entry for cocaine. The port has surged staffing to meet the competing needs of Brexit and increased sanctions on Russia, but US officials interviewed for the article noted that, because EU sanctions enforcement happens at the member state level, not all countries will have the same level of commitment to enforcement. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/08/world/europe/russia-eu-sanctions-rotterdam.html).

  • German Support for Sanctions Remains Steady: In a poll of about 1,300 eligible German voters in June, 60 of respondents said they supported measures against Russia even if energy supplies were a problem and local businesses were disadvantaged. 57 percent of respondents said they supported the measures even if energy and grocery prices continued to rise. (https://www.dw.com/en/german-voters-support-for-russia-sanctions-is-waning/a-62408344).

UPDATE:

July 07, 2022

  • EU Working on More Sanctions Against Russia: EU Council President, Charles Michel, told the European Parliament on Thursday that Brussels is looking at more sanctions against Russia. The bloc is considering sanctions on gold and a price cap on Russian oil, in line with recent commitments made at the G7 summit. In addition, the EU will continue to provide both financial and military support for Ukraine. (https://www.financialmirror.com/2022/07/07/eu-working-on-more-sanctions-against-russia/).

  •  France to Nationalize Power Company EDF to Combat Europe’s Energy Crisis: On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said that the French government will purchase 100% of power company EDF’s shares, compared to the 84% it owns currently. The French government said this step is needed to manage the transition away from fossil fuels at a time of energy crisis and the war in Ukraine. EDF has struggled after the French government capped retail electricity prices, and French labor unions have previously lobbied for nationalizing EDF to enact climate change policies. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/france-to-nationalize-energy-giant-edf-to-help-it-combat-europes-energy-crisis-11657119239?mod=djemalertNEWS).

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Orban’s Party Explores Possibilities to Rejoin Center-Right EPP: After two years of suspensions, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is reportedly pursuing an alliance between his Fidesz party and the center-right European People’s Party (“EPP”). Fidesz was previously in the EPP but left after receiving criticism about human rights in Hungary from the EPP. This move might be complicated by Orban and Fidesz’s recent positions regarding EU sanctions, notably the firm opposition to EU sanctions against Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill. (https://euobserver.com/eu-political/155418).

  • Germany Urges Canada to Release Sanctioned Pipeline Turbine: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck released a statement on Thursday calling on Canada to release a turbine needed to repair the Nord Stream I pipeline, saying, “I’ll be the first one who will fight for a further strong EU sanction package, but strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy.” The part is currently being withheld due to Canadian sanctions on the item; without the part, Germany may need to ration energy consumption in the winter. (https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/germanys-habeck-urges-canada-to-help-thwart-putins-gas-excuses).

UPDATE:

July 06, 2022

  • Commission Presents Guidance on Safe Home Initiation: During a session of the Ukraine Solidarity Platform meeting Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson presented the Guidance supporting the ‘Safe Homes’ initiative. The Guidance for Safe Homes presents key principles and practices to help hosting families, facilitate proper matching with those in need, and to ensure that private housing solutions are suitable and safe. (https://home-affairs.ec.europa.eu/safe-homes-guidance_en).

  • High Representative Replies to Parliamentary Question on Sanctions Against Persons Listed by the Anti‑Corruption Foundation: EU High-Representative Josep Borrell replied to a parliamentary question on the scope of EU sanctions underlining that the Anti‑Corruption Foundation has put together a list of around 6 000 people and entities who are directly linked to President Putin, and yet fall outside the scope of EU sanctions. The High-Representative notably mentioned that the EU “ensures that all designations meet the legal standards as defined in the jurisprudence of the CJEU”. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001862_EN.html).

  • Cryptocurrency Platform BitMEX Stops Offering Services to Russian in the EU: Cryptocurrency platform BitMex announced that it will no longer be offering its services to Russian citizens or residents located in the EU. Russians situated in Russia will likely not be impacted by the changes. The restriction is being applied by the company in order to stay compliant with EU sanctions against Russia. (https://cryptobriefing.com/bitmex-to-restrict-services-to-russians-in-eu/).

  • Commission President Warns of Danger of Complete Cut-off of Russian Gas: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said before the European Parliament on Wednesday that the EU needs to prepare now for further disruption of gas supply and “even a complete cut-off of Russian gas supply”. The EU already agreed last month that all natural gas storage in the 27-nation bloc should be topped up to at least 80% capacity for next winter to avoid shortages during the cold season. (https://time.com/6193972/eu-russia-gas-supply-cut-off/).

  • Amid Energy Crisis, E.U. Says Gas, Nuclear Can Sometimes be ‘Green’: The E.U. has agreed to phase out imports of coal and oil from Russia to hit the Kremlin’s war chest. Putin, who is aware that the bloc remains dependent on its gas, uses it as leverage to threaten and punish the E.U. Those in opposition to the inclusion of gas in the green taxonomy have expressed concern that it will incentivize investment in fossil fuels and delay the E.U.’s transition to renewable energy, but defenders of the plan argue that the war has heightened the need for rapid investment in the infrastructure required to import gas from places other than Russia.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/06/eu-parliament-nuclear-gas-green/?itid=hp_world).

  • Transparency International Calls on EU to Drop Russian Diamond Trade: Transparency International addressed an open letter to senior Belgian and European officials calling to drop the diamond trade with Russia. According to the letter, Russia exports $4 billion of rough diamonds annually, with Belgium being the largest importer. The Belgian Prime Minister has kept the door open to action at the European level, but has resisted moves to stem the trade at home. (https://www.brusselstimes.com/250512/transparency-international-calls-on-eu-to-drop-russian-diamond-trade).

  • Czech Government Issues Clarification on Russian Student Enrollment: In an official memo to all Czech universities, Deputy Education Minister Radka Wildova said EU sanctions forbid providing technical assistance to Russians, and that supporting higher education or applied research for Russian citizens could count as rendering technical assistance. Some Czech universities were forced to expel Russian students or force Russian students to change majors in response to the directive, but others are questioning the necessity of the measure. (https://www.dw.com/en/czech-republic-russian-university-students-face-restrictions/a-62388131).

UPDATE:

July 05, 2022

  • European Commission Replies to Parliamentary Question on Agricultural Products: The Commission provided a reply to a parliamentary question on if it intends to use the Commission’s power to prevent or limit disturbance to the agricultural market following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Commission did not rule out the possibility of adopting exceptional measures.  (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001884-ASW_EN.html).

  • Luxembourg Minister Says Seizing of Russian Assets Could be Part of Next Sanctions: Franz Fayot, the economy minister of Luxembourg, reported that some participants to the Ukraine recovery conference in Lugano, Switzerland, mainly Eastern European countries, suggested using seized Russian assets to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. “We don’t have a legal framework for something like that right now” Fayot said, but seizing Russian assets could well be among the next EU sanctions against Russia.(https://delano.lu/article/seizing-russian-assets-could-b).

  •  Italian Court Turns Down Request to Lift Freeze on Russian Businessman’s Yacht: On Tuesday, the administrative court in Lazio turned down a request to lift an asset freeze on the Lady M yacht. Asmare Enterprises, the listed owner of the yacht, unsuccessfully argued that sanctioned oligarch Alexey Mordashov was not the owner of the 65 million euro ($68 million) yacht, which was seized by the Italian police in the northern port of Imperia in March.(https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2022/07/05/674576.htm)

UPDATE:

July 04, 2022

  • EU Considering a New Bloc-Wide Sanctions Authority: Speaking to The Financial Times on Sunday, Mairead McGuinness, EU Financial Services Commissioner, announced on Sunday that the EU is considering a new sanctions authority, similar to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, or giving its planned Anti-Money Laundering Authority the ability to oversee sanctions and amend legislation. These proposals would replace the current process, where sanctions are drafted through discussions between the European Parliament and Member-States. She added that the EU is considering forcing sanctioned entities to disclose their assets. (https://www.ft.com/content/fe83c67b-5dcc-447e-aba3-34911aa5f39d).

  • Commission Publishes Guidance Note on Provision of Humanitarian Aid : On June 30, 2022, the EU Commission published a guidance note on the provision of humanitarian aid in compliance with EU sanctions. This builds on previous guidance on the provision of humanitarian aid to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in certain environments subject to EU sanctions that focused on EU counterterrorism sanctions and Iran, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela sanctions regimes. (https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/220630-humanitarian-aid-guidance-note_en).

UPDATE:

July 01, 2022

  • EU, Ukraine, and Moldova Sign Road Freight Transport Agreement: Moldova and Ukraine both signed transport agreements with the EU to help secure supply chains, including food security following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. In addition, the EU and Ukraine signed an understanding on updating Ukraine’s indicative TEN-T network to improve infrastructure connections between the EU and Ukraine. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_22_4245).  

  •  NATO Formally Invites Finland and Sweden to Alliance: NATO formalized its invitation to Finland and Sweden to the alliance, according to a statement from NATO Heads of State and Government on Wednesday. The statement added, “The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.” (https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/29/politics/joe-biden-nato-day-2/index.html).

UPDATE:

June 29, 2022

  • Council Takes the First Step to Make Violation of EU Sanctions an EU Crime: On 28 June 2022, the Council reached an agreement at technical level on the Commission’s proposal to make violation of EU sanctions an EU crime. This would allow the Commission to propose a directive defining the scope and the criminal penalties for the violation of sanctions across Member States in a consistent manner. The Council’s Permanent Representative Committee still has to officially endorse the agreement and to request the consent of the European Parliament before the final adoption of the text. (https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10556-2022-INIT/en/pdf).

  • EU Commission Extends Support for the Integration of Ukrainian Refugees: The European Commission adopted a new comprehensive package to extend the support provided under the Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (“CARE”) to further speed up and simplify Member States’ support to the integration of third country nationals. The new package provides for more support for Member States, local authorities and civil society organizations welcoming displaced people, ensures that investments go where they are needed and provides practical support to solve the problem of delayed implementation of projects. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_4043).
  •  NATO Formally Invites Finland and Sweden to Alliance: NATO formalized its invitation to Finland and Sweden to the alliance, according to a statement from NATO Heads of State and Government on Wednesday. The statement added, “The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.” (https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/29/politics/joe-biden-nato-day-2/index.html).

UPDATE:

June 28, 2022

UPDATE:

June 27, 2022

  • Lithuania’s President Vows To Stick To Kaliningrad Restrictions: Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has stressed that his Baltic country “must” and “will” enforce EU sanctions on Russian goods amid harsh rhetoric from Moscow over Vilnius’s recent restrictions affecting the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. He called for an “urgent” start to consultations with the European Commission to protect Lithuania’s interests and international obligations in the shadow of sanctions against Ukraine’s “aggressor.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/lithuania-kaliningrad-eu-sanctions-enforce-russia/31915719.html).

  • Russian Hackers Temporarily Disable Lithuanian Government Websites: On Monday, the websites for the Lithuanian State Tax Inspectorate and the Migration Department were temporarily disabled as a result of a distributed denial of service (“DDOS”) attack. A pro-Moscow hacking group, Killnet, has claimed responsibility for the actions. Russia repeatedly warned Lithuania that the country would “retaliate” in response to Lithuania’s decision to disrupt transportation to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. (https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/cyberattack-hits-lithuania-sanctions-feud-russia-rcna35488).

  • EU Commission Answers Parliamentary Question of Circumvention: Commissioner McGuinness answered a parliamentary question seeking clarification on how the European Union plans to prevent Russia circumventing sanctions through illegal transactions using dummy companies. The Commission notably recalls that it will conduct a review of practices that circumvent and undermine sanctions which will inform possible legislative proposals or implementation guidelines. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001491-ASW_EN.pdf).

  • France Pushes for Cap on Oil Prices Worldwide: While G7 leaders have been debating a price-cap plan targeting Russian oil exports, the services of the French president confirmed that France is pushing for a cap on oil prices “not only on Russian oil” but that “take[s] into account all market players”.  (https://www.politico.eu/article/france-wants-worldwide-cap-on-oil-prices/).

  • Hungary Will Not Discuss Ban on Russian Oil With EU: Speaking over Facebook, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that “Hungary doesn’t want to hold talks on a gas embargo… That would practically incapacitate our economy and the entire country…” (https://tass.com/economy/1472149)

UPDATE:

June 24, 2022

  • Germany Considering Nationalizing Nord Stream II Pipeline: On Friday, reports emerged that Germany is considering nationalizing part of the Nord Stream II Pipeline. This would allow the pipeline to connect to a floating LNG terminal that is already connected to Germany’s gas transmission system. German analysts are still working through the legal and political consequences of the action. (https://news.yahoo.com/germany-could-nationalize-part-nord-162000632.html).

  • Russia Sanctions vs. Recession Risk in Europe: EU States Look to Stem Rising Inflation: Since Russia invaded Ukraine four months ago, the cost of living crisis has become a global issue. Prices have gone up around the world. In Europe, the countries that use the euro saw an average of 8.1 percent inflation in May. Pressure on prices, combined with stuttering economic growth, has sparked fears of a recession. These concerns could still come into play regarding the EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In this program, we’re joined by two MEPs to discuss how the EU should balance sanctions against Russia with the risk of recession. (https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/talking-europe/20220624-russia-sanctions-vs-recession-risk-in-europe-eu-states-look-to-stem-rising-inflation). 

UPDATE:

June 23, 2022

  • Uncertainties Regarding the Application of Sanctions to Kaliningrad: Following the decision of Lithuania to ban the transit of goods under EU sanctions from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, the Commission is said to be working on new guidance that makes clear that Lithuanian customs authorities have to check the goods to avoid sanctions evasion, but can allow onward transport of metals if they are destined for Russia’s internal market. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė insists, however, that the transit ban on steel and ferrous metal through the EU is part of the bloc’s sanctions, as agreed by all 27 members. (https://www.politico.eu/newsletter/brussels-playbook/kaliningrad-simmers-enlargement-hypocrisies-renew-and-bulgaria/).

  • Hungary Pushes for Ceasefire, No Additional Sanctions: Speaking on the sidelines of an EU summit on Thursday, Balazs Orban, a senior aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that the bloc should not seek any more sanctions on Russia, and instead push for Russia and Ukraine to organize a ceasefire and conduct negotiations. He stated, “At the end of the day Europe will be on the losing side of this war because of the economic problems. Our recommendation would be that we should stop the sanction process.” (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/no-more-eu-sanctions-russia-needed-negotiations-better-option-hungary-2022-06-23/).

  • Germany Moves to Gas “Alert Level”: On Thursday, Germany announced that it had moved to its so-called “alert level” of its emergency gas plan. The move means that Germany now seeks a high risk of long-term gas supply shortages. The shift can come  when there is “disruption of gas supply or exceptionally high gas demand which results in significant deterioration of the gas supply situation occurs but the market is still able to manage that disruption or demand without the need to resort to non-market-based measures.” (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/23/germany-triggers-alert-level-of-emergency-gas-plan-sees-high-risk-of-long-term-supply-shortages.html).

UPDATE:

June 22, 2022

  • Council of the EU Adopts Conclusions on a Framework for Coordinated EU Response to Hybrid Campaigns: The Council of the EU adopted its non-binding conclusions on a framework for coordinated EU response to hybrid campaigns. While recalling that primary responsibility for countering hybrid threats lies within Member States, the Council identified the main principle that should guide coordinated EU response. The Council notably calls on Member States to develop an efficient monitoring mechanism and to collect relevant early signals and exchange information. Priority should be given to measures aiming to mitigate and terminate the impact of a detected campaign, as well as to prevent its further expansion and escalation. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/06/21/council-conclusions-on-a-framework-for-a-coordinated-eu-response-to-hybrid-campaigns/).

  • Council of the EU to Remove Russian Lobbies from Transparency Register: The French presidency of the Council informed national diplomats last week of its intention to have representatives of Russian interests suspended from the EU’s transparency register. Inclusion in the register is a requirement for access to the European Commission, Parliament and Council premises. The European Parliament already banned lobbyists for Russia-based entities earlier this month. (https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-russia-lobbyist-ban/).

UPDATE:

June 21, 2022

  • Top Advisor to German Chancellor Suggests Focusing on Long-Term Relationship with Russia: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s top foreign policy aide suggested Europe should focus more on preserving long-term relations with Russia and less on the specifics of German tank shipments to Ukraine. He also called for a softer approach toward China and argued that Ukraine should not be granted any “rebates” on its bid to become an EU member. (https://www.politico.eu/article/plotner-unplugged-top-germany-adviser-controversy-russia-comments/).

  • Airbus Calls on International Community to Spare Russian Titanium from Sanctions: On Tuesday, major European aerospace manufacturer Airbus urged the international community to avoid imposing sanctions on Russian titanium, as the company is heavily reliant on the product in its operations and approving new suppliers is difficult. Though Airbus is not the only importer of Russian titanium, American companies Boeing and Raytheon have publicly announced their intent to cease partnerships with Russian titanium providers. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbus-calls-on-west-to-avoid-sanctions-on-russian-titanium-11655817028).

UPDATE:

June 20, 2022

  • Member States Push for Seventh Sanctions Package, Funds for Ukraine: Reuters reported on Monday that “about one-third of the 27 EU governments, mostly Nordic and eastern states, want the EU Commission to begin work on a seventh round of sanctions.” Draft copies of conclusions obtained by Reuters do not currently indicate new sanctions are coming, but the draft may be revised. In addition, Sweden and Poland are also calling for additional funds to Ukraine through the European Peace Facility. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-nations-push-new-russia-sanctions-more-military-aid-ukraine-2022-06-20/).

  • Germany Conducts First Seizure of Sanctioned Real Estate: Prosecutors in Munich seized three private apartments and a bank account owned by a member of the Russian Duma and his wife on Monday. It is believed to be the first seizure of real estate assets of an individual sanctioned under the new Russia sanctions regime in Germany. The tenants currently occupying the apartments will continue living in the flats, but will pay rent directly to the Munich district court. (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-seizes-first-russian-owned-property-under-sanctions/a-62191796).

  • Russian Gas Cuts Impact Summer Filling Season: On Monday, The Wall Street Journal looked at the impact recent gas cuts had on European energy companies, noting that the summer months are typically the “filling season,” where energy companies stock up on gas supplies for the winter while demand for heat is low. Given the reduction in Russian gas exports, this filling campaign is going slower than usual, which has led some countries, like Germany, to unveil mitigation strategies even while demand is low. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/less-russian-gas-puts-europes-winter-fuel-supply-in-jeopardy-11655725207?mod=hp_lead_pos10).

UPDATE:

June 19, 2022

  • Polish Official Calls for Tougher Sanctions on Russia: In a Saturday interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said that the sixth EU sanctions package “was not enough to weaken Putin and his military machine sufficiently.” His proposals for a seventh EU sanctions package include a total ban on the export of EU dual use goods to Russia. Polish negotiators are expected to push for a seventh EU package during an EU foreign minister’s meeting on Monday in Luxembourg. (https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/poland-calls-for-tougher-sanctions-on-russia-31142).

  • Lithuania Bans Transit Through its Territory to Kaliningrad: Lithuania’s national rail service announced on Saturday that it had banned transit through its territory of goods bound for the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The Governor of Kaliningrad estimated that the ban, which entered into force on Saturday, would cover 40 to 50 percent of the items Kaliningrad imports from and exports to Russia, and, if it remains in place for a long time, the Governor promised to work with the Russian government to get more ferries to move items from mainland Russia to the enclave. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/18/lithuania-enforces-eu-sanctions-on-goods-to-russias-kaliningrad).

  • Italy Receives Reduced Gas Volumes from Gazprom: On Sunday, Italian energy company Eni announced that it was receiving gas from Gazprom, though at approximately 50 to 65 percent of its requested volumes. (https://tass.com/economy/1468153).

UPDATE:

June 17, 2022

  • Commission Recommends EU Council to Confirm Ukraine’s EU Candidate Status: On Friday June 17, 2022, the European Commissions issued its recommendation regarding Ukraine’s EU candidate status, and recommended the EU Council to grant Ukraine EU candidate status. A similar opinion was issued regarding Moldova and Georgia.  (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_3790).

UPDATE:

June 16, 2022

  • Germany Urges Citizens to Reduce Gas as Gazprom Cuts Supply: On Wednesday, Germany urged its citizens to reduce gas consumption as Russia curbs gas exports through the Nord Stream pipeline due to alleged technical problems. Gazprom also announced that it was experiencing problems with gas supplies to Italy, Slovakia, and Austria. European nations claim these curbs are not due to technical problems, but rather political motivations. (https://www.ft.com/content/9cdd8457-0e5a-4452-af3e-9df7107fd128).

  • Ukraine Contemplates Suing Russia for Environmental Crimes: Ukraine is gathering evidence and contemplating options to sue the Russian military for environmental crimes committed during the invasion as a potential source to finance reconstruction. Total damage is estimated at 6.6 billion euros. Ukraine could bring the case before its national courts, options before international courts are limited. (https://www.politico.eu/article/how-ukraine-want-make-russia-pay-for-war-environmental-damage/).

UPDATE:

June 15, 2022

  • Dutch Court Rules on Termination of Contracts in Russia: A Dutch Court has established that there are legal grounds for Western contractors with outstanding contracts in Russia to terminate their commitments and exit the country, thus offering a defense against future compensation claims by former Russian clients. In a judgement published on June 9 the Rechtbank district court in Amsterdam rejected an appeal from Dutch-registered Saren — acting on behalf of Russian operator Arctic LNG 2 — seeking payment of €39.5 million ($41.2 million). (https://www.upstreamonline.com/lng/dutch-court-paves-way-for-western-contractors-to-exit-russian-lng-projects/2-1-1238544).

  • Russian Oligarchs Flew Jets in EU Airspace, Despite Ban: On Wednesday, German newspaper Welt am Sonntagreported that at least 30 private jets and helicopters owned by Russian oligarchs have used EU airspace, despite the bloc’s ban on Russian aircraft in its airspace beginning on February 27. Aircraft belonging to Eugene Shvidler, Alexander Zanadvorov, Alisher Usmanov, Albert Avdolyan, Viktor Vekselberg, and Roman Abramovich were found in EU airspace in the research. (https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-oligarch-jets-helicopters-fly-eu-airspace-sanctions-ukraine-war-2022-6).   

  • EU Signs Gas Deal With Israel and Egypt: The EU, Israel and Egypt signed a tripartite natural gas export deal allowing “significant” exports of Israeli gas to Europe. Israeli gas will be brought via a pipeline to Egypt’s LNG terminal on the Mediterranean, where some will be liquefied and transported on tankers to European shores. In January, the EU and Israel already signed a deal for construction of an undersea electricity cable that will link the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece. (EU signs gas deal with Israel, Egypt in bid to ditch Russia | Oil and Gas News | Al Jazeera).

  • Latvia Reports Over 400 Attempts at Sanctions Evasion: On Wednesday, Ieva Jaunzeme, head of the Latvian State Revenue Service, reported that the country has seen over 400 attempts at sanctions evasion since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She said that most of the instances involved falsified contracts to allow otherwise embargoed goods to enter the country. She added that the Service has opened over a dozen criminal cases already based on the information obtained. (https://bnn-news.com/latvian-vid-uncover-more-than-400-attempts-to-breach-sanctions-against-russia-and-belarus-235494).

UPDATE:

June 14, 2022

  • Germany to Lend up to $10.4 billion to Rescue Ex-Gazprom Unit: Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the German government will lend as much as 10 billion euros ($10.4 billion) to rescue a former arm of Gazprom PJSC, which was brought under the control of the German energy regulator in April. The plan includes a loan from state-owned KfW Group, which could eventually be converted into a direct stake under a new form of trusteeship. The name of the company will change to Securing Energy for Europe GmbH. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-14/germany-to-lend-up-to-10-4-billion-to-rescue-ex-gazprom-unit?srnd=premium).

UPDATE:

June 13, 2022

  • French, Italian, German Leaders Planning to Visit Ukraine This Week: On Sunday, sources within their respective governments stated that French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were planning to visit Kyiv on Thursday, though they stressed that plans may change. The trip would be the first to Ukraine since the beginning of the war for the three Western leaders. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-shells-chemical-plant-sheltering-civilians-ukraine-says-11655031115).

UPDATE:

June 11, 2022

  • Serbian President Does not Believe EU Sanctions are Efficient: Responding to calls implement EU sanctions, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he did not believe sanctions to be “efficient.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Serbia on Friday, where he pressured the country, which is currently a candidate for EU membership, to implement sanctions on Russia similar to those in place in the EU. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/scholz-heads-western-balkans-help-eu-membership-bid-2022-06-10/).

UPDATE:

June 9, 2022

  • European Parliament Adopts Foreign Strategy Following the War in Ukraine: The European Parliament adopted a non-binding recommendation on the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) notably recommend introducing qualified majority voting for the adoption of EU personal sanctions regimes. MEPS also recommend to bring the UK into a framework for common cooperation on defence and foreign policy matters. (https://interfax.com.ua/news/general/837995.html).

  • EU Sets Up €20 Million Support Fund for Ukrainian Start-Ups: The European Commission launched a €20 million action to support Ukrainian start-ups through an amendment of the 2022 European Innovation Council (EIC) work program. The new initiative will support at least 200 Ukrainian deep tech start-ups with up to €60,000 each. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_3533).

  • Committee Defers Decision on Russian Credit Default Swaps:  The EMEA Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said Thursday that it would defer its decision on how to hold a potential auction on Russian credit default swaps following an update on U.S. sanctions by the Treasury Department earlier this week with the goal of allowing “credit derivatives market participants time to assess the implications that the updated OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) FAQs may have on the ability of market participants to participate in an auction.” (https://wtvbam.com/2022/06/09/committee-defers-decision-on-russia-cds-auction-after-u-s-sanctions-update/).  

UPDATE:

June 8, 2022

  • Luxembourg froze 4.2 Billion Euros in Russian Assets: Luxembourg Minister of Finance announced that the country froze 4.2 billion euros in Russian assets. According to the Grand-Duchy, 90 people and 1,100 legal entities were identified and sanctioned by Luxembourg. (https://www.law360.com/corporate-crime-uk/articles/1500682).

  • President of European Council Reports to Parliament after Addressing the UN Security Council: European Council President Charles Michel addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament after his speech before the UN Security Council. The President addressed the food crisis and reiterated that the EU did not impose sanctions on agricultural products. Charles Michel also mentioned the financing needs of Ukraine and said that Russia should pay to rebuild the country and said the EU is looking into the possibility of confiscating assets of sanctioned Russian individuals and entities. Finally, President Michel stated that the Commission is considering the possibility of trying to lower the gas price by capping it. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/06/08/report-by-president-charles-michel-to-the-european-parliament-plenary-session/).

  • EU Commits 7.25 Million Euros to Support ICC Investigations: The European Commission launched a new project to support the investigating capacities of the International Criminal Court with 7.25 million euros to help the ICC respond to the ongoing investigations into war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEX_22_3542).

  •  EU Commission Answers Parliamentary Question on SME Support: The European Commission replied to a question from a Member of the European Parliament regarding the support to SMEs affected by the Ukrainian crisis. Commissioner Breton recalled the existence of the Temporary Crisis Framework adopted in March 2022 and of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. There are no plans for additional financial support for businesses affected by this crisis from other EU programs, he stated. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-000826_EN.html).

UPDATE:

June 7, 2022

  • Commission Answers Parliamentary Question on Media Ban: The European Commission confirmed that only companies mentioned in Annex XV to Regulation 833/2014 will see their license suspended. However, transactions with companies associated with sanctioned individuals such as Yandex can be affected and operators need to exert appropriate due diligence when dealing with them. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001234_EN.html).

  • EU High Representative Answers Question on Russia Arm Embargo: EU High Representative Josep Borell, on behalf of the Commission, clarified that the exemption for pre-2014 contracts from the arm embargo was deleted by the Council and that arms exports, beyond the arms embargo in place, are subject to the Common Position of December 8, 2008. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-001537-ASW_EN.pdf).

  • Deutsche Bank Offers to Relocate Russian Employees to Berlin: The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Deutsche Bank had offered nearly 1500 employees from its technology center in Russia the opportunity to move with their families to Berlin. According to the report, about half of those given the offer accepted it. Deutsche Bank has not said publicly what it plans to do with the Russian center and the staff who will stay there, but it did note in March that it would be winding its Russian operations down. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/deutsche-bank-moves-hundreds-of-employees-from-russia-to-berlin-11654599210).

     
  • Cypriot Services Sector Struggling to Understand EU Sanctions Exemptions:  The services sector, as well as the Ministry of Finance, in Cyprus are reportedly working to understand the EU’s sixth tranche of sanctions on Russia, including the prohibition on the provision of auditing, accounting, business, administrative, and PR services to Russian entities. So far, it seems, the sanctions do not apply to the provision of services intended for the exclusive use of legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia that are owned or controlled exclusively or jointly by a legal person, entity or body which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a Member State. The sector is trying to understand whether the exemption – a company established in Cyprus by Russians which in turn established another company in Russia – applies to Cypriot companies established by Russian entities. (https://cyprus-mail.com/2022/06/07/cypriot-services-sector-still-grappling-with-russian-sanctions-impact/).

     

     

UPDATE:

June 5, 2022

  • Investigation Shows European Companies Increased Purchases of Russian Oil:According to an investigation from Global Witness, Greek, Cypriot, and Maltese shipping firms have increased their shipments of Russian oil since the invasion of Ukraine began. Investigators are skeptical that the recently announced EU ban on Russian oil will change the situation, saying that European shipping companies are still permitted to ship Russian oil to non-EU ports even with the new restrictions.(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/russia-ukraine-oil-sanctions-shipping-b2092658.html).

  • EU Sanctions Impact “Google of Russia”: In response to EU sanctions, Arkady Volozh promptly resigned from his position as CEO and board member of Yandex NV, Russia’s most popular search engine known colloquially as the “Google of Russia.” Volozh does not own shares in Yandex directly, instead depositing his shares in a family trust after a 2019 restructuring. Though he called the sanctions “misguided,” he promised to not give directions to the trust after his designation. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-06/the-internet-pioneer-brought-low-as-kremlin-ally-by-eu-sanctions).

     

UPDATE:

June 4, 2022

  • Melnichenko’s Wife Plans to Contest EU Sanctions: According a statement provided to Reuters on Saturday, Aleksandra Melnichenko, wife of sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, plans to “vigorously contest the unfortunate decision” by the EU to impose sanctions on her. Aleksandra is not a Russian citizen, but the EU sanctioned her because she “takes good advantage of the fortune and benefits from the wealth of her husband.” Andrey has already sued to contest the sanctions against him in EU courts. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/wife-russian-billionaire-melnichenko-contests-eu-sanctions-2022-06-04/).

  • EU Considering Options to Reduce Energy Consumption: The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported on European efforts to reduce energy consumption. These efforts included French subsidies to homeowners to renovate their homes in a more energy-efficient manner, and bloc-wide efforts to switch from gas heating systems to electric heating systems. Still, members of European parliament warn that these efforts will take time and require significant investment. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-war-drives-europe-to-accelerate-energy-efficiency-11654434181).

UPDATE:

June 3, 2022

  • EU Adopts 6th Sanctions Package: the EU has adopted its 6th sanctions package against Russia, which notably consists of:

    o   Asset freeze measures against members of the Russian armed forces, officials, media personalities, oligarchs, family members of previously designated individuals and entities involved in the industrial and technological sectors.

    –       Grounds for authorization have been introduced for the provision of electronic communication services under certain conditions.

    o   A prohibition on the purchase, import, or transfer of crude oil or petroleum products originating in or exported from Russia and the provision of related services.

    –       Exemptions apply for:

    –       One-off transactions and for contracts concluded before June 4, 2022, until December 5, 2022 for crude oil and until  February 5, 2022 for petroleum products, subject to notification requirements.

    –       Seaborne crude oil and petroleum departing or transiting through Russia provided the origin and owner of the goods are non-Russian.

    –       Crude oil delivered by pipeline (restrictions are foreseen on the transfer, transport or sale of crude oil delivered by pipeline into a Member State)

    –       For landlocked Member States if the supply of crude oil by pipeline is interrupted for reasons outside the control of that Member State.

    –       If required in order to meet the essential need of the purchaser in Russia or of humanitarian projects in Russia.

    –       Croatia and Bulgaria have longer phase-out periods.

    o   A prohibition on services related to the transport to third countries of crude oil and petroleum products originating in or exported from Russia.

    –       Exemptions apply (i) until December 5, 2022 for contracts concluded before June 4, 2022 and (ii) for oil and petroleum products departing or transiting through Russia provided the origin and owner of the goods are non-Russian.

     

    o   Extension of the list of entities for which enhanced dual-use controls apply.

    o   Extension of the list of items subject to controls to cover certain electronics, chemicals, and material processing items, spirits and liqueurs and heading 2303.

    o   Addition of exemptions for transactions with state-owned/related entities.

    o   Prohibition on the provision of financial messaging services (SWIFT) to Sberbank, Credit Bank of Moscow and JSC Russian Agricultural Bank and the entities in Russia they own for more than 50%, as of June 14, 2022.

    o   Prohibitions on the provision of accounting, auditing, including statutory audit, bookkeeping, or tax consulting services, or business and management consulting or public relations services to the Government of Russia and entities established in Russia, subject to exemptions and derogations.

    o   Derogation to allow for the granting of authorizations for deposits or the provision of wallet, account or custody services intended exclusively for the payment of fees or service charges for the routine holding or maintenance of frozen funds or economic resources.

    o   Extension of the derogations relating to the sale of transferable securities denominated in an EU currency to EEA and Swiss nationals and residents.

    o   The entry into force of prohibitions affecting trusts at an earlier date.

    o   Extension of the broadcasting prohibition to three additional entities and the advertising of products or services.

    o   Enforcement provisions clarify that Member States shall have criminal penalties, as appropriate, and provide for appropriate measures of confiscation of the proceeds of sanctions infringements.

    o   Belarussian sanctions have been reinforced with inter alia additional individuals and entities subject to asset freeze measures, reinforced trade controls, prohibition of financial messaging services to Belinvestbanks and the entities in Belarus it owns for more than 50 percent as of June 14, 2022.

    See the press release and Q&A:

    https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_2802

    https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_22_2823

    See the legal texts:

    https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=OJ:L:2022:153:TOC

  • EU, Israel, and Egypt Near Deal on Natural Gas:  Bloomberg reports that the EU is set to sign an agreement this month with Egypt and Israel to supply the bloc with natural gas amidst its efforts to reduce its dependence of Russian supplies. The memorandum of understanding outlining the terms of the arrangement is set to be signed when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Cairo at the end of June. The deal will include Israeli natural gas being liquefied in Egyptian processing plants with the final product being shipped to the EU. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-03/eu-egypt-near-gas-supply-deal-in-shift-away-from-russia).

  • Finland Cuts Russian Power Link:  Finish utility company Fortum Oyj has disconnected the interconnector between Imatra in Finland and Svetogorsk in Russia until further notice, following the failure of the Finish company to pay RAO Nordic Oy, a subsidiary of Russian energy company Inter RAO, on May 14. (https://tass.com/economy/1460299).

UPDATE:

June 2, 2022

  • Hungary Blocks Sanctions Against the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church: After obtaining concessions on the Russian oil embargo, Hungary objected to the proposal to sanction the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill. The objection comes as a surprise as an agreement on sanctions was expected to be reached in Council after the EU Leaders’ summit agreed on the oil embargo. (https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-throws-in-new-spanner-in-sanctions-discussions/).

  • Dutch National Coordinator on Sanctions Presents His Report: This week the Dutch Coordinator for the implementation of sanctions Stef Blok presented his report to the Dutch Parliament. The report calls for the sharing of information between Member States on ultimate beneficial owners and for a protocol on how to deal with operating companies in Europe. The report also calls on the Commission to share information ​​with authorities ahead of the publication of the official sanctions list to prevent the moving of funds before publication.  (https://www.government.nl/documents/reports/2022/06/02/report-by-the-national-coordinator-for-sanctions-compliance-and-enforcement).

  • Russian Lobbyists Banned from European Parliament:European Parliament President Roberta Metsola announced that Russian company representatives may not enter Parliament buildings “effective immediately.” The ban will apply to all entities that are established in the Russia Federation and that are listed in the EU transparency register as well as entities subject to EU sanctions. (https://www.politico.eu/article/european-parliament-bars-russia-backed-lobbyists/).

UPDATE:

June 1, 2022

  • EU Updated Russia Sanctions Guidance on Credit Rating, Deposits, Insurance and Reinsurance and State-Owned Enterprises and Customs: On June 1, 2022, the European Commission updated the Russian Sanctions Guidance on credit rating, deposits, insurance and reinsurance and state-owned enterprises and customs. The Commission added questions for credit rating relating to scoring services, credit rating on Russian entities, rating services for third parties, and the application of credit rating provisions to persons with a temporary residence permit outside of Russia. Other questions on insurance and reinsurance relate to exemptions for subsidiaries in Switzerland and EEA countries, reinsurance of export receivables on the basis of export/insurance contracts. For state-owned enterprises, the Commission provided an interpretation of the notion of “acting on behalf or at the direction of”, and of the exception provided in Article 5aa(2) of Council Regulation (EU) 833/2014. Finally, for customs, the Commission replied to questions on the return of cultural goods, daily crossing of Russian borders, and the definition of agricultural products. (https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/banking-and-finance/international-relations/restrictive-measures-sanctions/sanctions-adopted-following-russias-military-aggression-against-ukraine_en#customs).

  • Denmark Holds a Referendum on Participation to EU’s Common Defense Policy: On June 1, 2022, Danes voted on the participation of Denmark to EU’s common defense policy. Denmark currently benefits from an opt-out and does not participate in EU’s foreign policy where defense is concerned, and does not contribute troops to EU military missions. Polls suggest that a strong majority of Danes will vote in favor of joining EU’s common defense policy. (https://www.euronews.com/2022/06/01/denmark-to-vote-on-europe-common-defence-opt-out-in-wake-of-ukraine-war).

     

  • EU Opens Door to Billions in Aid to Poland: The New York Times reported Wednesday that the EU’s executive arm had endorsed a Polish plan to address the EU Commission’s concerns over the politicization of its judiciary which would in turn lead to the disbursement of $38 billion in assistance. If the plan is approved, Polish officials expect the first tranche to be paid by September. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/01/world/europe/poland-eu-ukraine-coronavirus.html?).

     

UPDATE:

May 31, 2022

  • EU Leaders Agree on Russian Oil Embargo: European leaders agreed on a Russian oil embargo with a temporary exemption for pipeline imports to help landlocked states. EU officials reported that if Hungary did not commit to a cut-off date, tariffs on oil could be imposed without requiring unanimity in Council. The exemption could be a potential source of distortion to the single market with exempted-countries enjoying cheaper oil than others. Details of the embargo still need to be discussed and adopted by the Council. (https://www.ft.com/content/065d9946-b762-448b-9ab4-f1f213896d4a).

  • EU Summit Adopts Conclusions on Ukraine: The highly-awaited European Council conclusions mention (i) the need to gather evidence and to investigate crimes committed in Ukraine, (ii) the upcoming oil embargo, (iii) the need to continue to support Ukraine with a view to addressing humanitarian, liquidity and reconstruction needs (iv) the commitment of the EU to continue bolstering Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. The conclusions also address the question of the economic and political support and the impact on neighboring countries. (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/05/31/european-council-conclusions-on-ukraine-30-may-2022/).

  • Russia Cuts Gas Supply to the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany: Energy company Gazprom halted gas supply to the Dutch company GasTerra, Danish company Ørsted and Shell Energy for its contract to supply Germany. The decision follows the imposition of an oil embargo by the EU and the failure of Ørsted and Shell Energy to make payment in Rubles. GasTerra already found alternative supply sources while Ørsted said that a gas cut would not immediately put the country’s gas supplies at risk. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/31/russia-cuts-gas-supplies-dutch-state-trader-sanctions-war).

  • EU Commission Replies to Parliamentary Question on Aid to Rail Transporters Supporting Humanitarian Work in Ukraine: On May 30, 2022, Commissioner Vălean provided a written reply to a question from a Member of the European Parliament. In its reply, the Commission notably recalls that it adopted the Temporary Crisis Framework which recognizes that the transport of refugees and humanitarian aid do not fall in principle under EU state aid rules. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/P-9-2022-001120_EN.html).

  • EU Commission Replies to Parliamentary Question on Implementation and Enforcement of EU Sanctions Against Russia: On May 30, 2022, Commissioner McGuinness provided a written reply to a question from a Member of the European Parliament. In its reply, the Commission notably recalls that it has set up a Freeze and Seize Task Force to ensure coordination of Member States activities in enforcing EU sanctions. (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/P-9-2022-001348_EN.html).

  • EU Launches Platform for Registration of Individuals Fleeing Ukraine: The European Commission launched a platform to register individuals fleeing Ukraine so they can enjoy their rights in all Member States while addressing instances of double or multiple registrations and limiting possible abuse. (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_22_3384).

  • Tourism-Heavy Countries Brace for Summer Without Russian Tourists: On Tuesday, Al Jazeera profiled the tourism industries in Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey, popular destinations for Russian tourists that are now more difficult to access due to Russian visa restrictions. Hoteliers in Greece saw a limited drop in bookings, saying that UK tourists have largely replaced Russian tourists. Turkish authorities were less optimistic, saying that reduced purchasing power by Russian tourists would lead to $3-4 billion in losses in tourism revenue. Cypriot representatives focused on secondary effects of lost tourism, noting heavy investment in the Cypriot economy by Russians. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/31/tourist-destinations-gear-up-for-summer-without-russian-visitors).

UPDATE:

May 30, 2022

  • Deal Reached on Russian Oil Embargo and Sixth Sanctions Package: On Monday night, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that the Council had reached a deal to ban Russian oil imports to the EU. The move will immediately cover 2/3 of Russian oil imports to the EU. He added that the new package will include a de-Swifting of Sberbank, a ban on three Russian state owned broadcasters, and sanctions on individuals responsible for war crimes in Ukraine. Though full details of the deal are not clear, Michel’s tweet likely refers to a carveout from the ban on Russian oil imports for oil transported through pipelines, which represents 30% of EU imports. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said the idea was “not bad,” but wants insurance from the EU in case anything happens to the pipeline delivering oil to Hungary. It is unclear if EU leaders will adopt the text as proposed during the European summit (ending on Tuesday) or leave the issue entirely to the Council of Ministers.(https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1531391899218608133?cxt=HHwWioCwzbK0zMAqAAAA; https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-moves-step-closer-to-deal-on-russian-oil-embargo/).

  • Gazprom Suspends Shipments to Dutch Trader GasTerra: On Monday, GasTerra, which buys and trades energy products on behalf of the Dutch government, and Gazprom announced that the Russian gas company will no longer ship natural gas to GasTerra beginning on May 31, because the company refuses to pay for its shipments in rubles. The Dutch government stated that it had contracted elsewhere to make up for the gap in gas supply, and Gazprom stated that the suspension will continue until GasTerra pays in rubles. (https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/gazprom-suspends-gas-deliveries-dutch-trader-gasterra-2022-05-30/).

  • EU Sanctions Against Russia Challenged Before EU Court: An action for annulment against the Decision and Regulation imposing sanctions in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine was published in the Official Journal of the European Union by a complainant under the name “OT”. The sanctions are only challenged as far as they apply to the applicant. 7 pleas were raised before the General Court of the European Union. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:62022TN0193&from=EN).

UPDATE:

May 29, 2022

  • Deal Reached on Russian Oil Embargo and Sixth Sanctions Package: On Monday night, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that the Council had reached a deal to ban Russian oil imports to the EU. The move will immediately cover 2/3 of Russian oil imports to the EU. He added that the new package will include a de-Swifting of Sberbank, a ban on three Russian state owned broadcasters, and sanctions on individuals responsible for war crimes in Ukraine. Though full details of the deal are not clear, Michel’s tweet likely refers to a carveout from the ban on Russian oil imports for oil transported through pipelines, which represents 30% of EU imports. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said the idea was “not bad,” but wants insurance from the EU in case anything happens to the pipeline delivering oil to Hungary. It is unclear if EU leaders will adopt the text as proposed during the European summit (ending on Tuesday) or leave the issue entirely to the Council of Ministers.(