European Union.  The West suspends the harshest sanctions against Russia

  • Ministers from 27 European Union countries agreed on a package of sanctions in retaliation for the Kremlin’s recognition of the creation of two “republics” states in eastern Donbass and for the now official introduction of the Russian military there, which since 2014 has been supporting the separatists. there anyway
  • The European Union decided to strike at the access of Russian state and government institutions to international capital markets and financial services
  • Tuesday’s EU decision means that more serious sanctions, including those related to the financial sector and a ban on the export of high-tech goods, have left Brussels – like the US – in reserve.
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“All 27 countries have agreed on how to respond to Russia’s recent actions against Ukraine,” Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the head of French diplomacy who now holds the presidency of the European Union, announced Tuesday night. Ministers from 27 EU countries have agreed on a package of sanctions In response to the Kremlin’s recognition of statehood in the two “republics” in eastern Donbass and for the introduction of the Russian army there, which has been supporting local separatists since 2014 anyway. – Russian forces entered the Donbass region, which we consider to be part of Ukraine. This is not a complete invasion, said Josep Borrell, the head of EU diplomacy, but that Russian forces are on Ukrainian soil.

The European Union’s “maximum plan”

The European Union has a maximum sanctions plan prepared in the event of Russian “armed aggression” against Ukraine. But Brussels today had to calibrate it in response to the Kremlin’s actions thus far, which neither the United States nor the European Union has yet classified as a new “armed invasion” in their sanctioning parlance.

The European Union decided to strike at the access of Russian state and government institutions to international capital markets and financial services. This means, among other things, restrictions on the refinancing of Russian public debt and the cutting of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation from financial markets. EU sanctions are coordinated with London, Washington and Tokyo, so in order to circumvent them, the Russians will have to look for opportunities to borrow from outside the major international exchanges. On the other hand, recent EU restrictions do not affect the ordinary banking sector in Russia as a whole.

Putin is not on the sanctions list

Until now, the “black list” of persons responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine who were subject to entry bans and frozen property in the European Union numbered 190 names. Today, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council decided to extend it to another 370 people. This group includes 351 deputies in the Russian State Duma who voted to recognize the separatist state of Donetsk and Luhansk, about 20 officials and leaders. Vladimir Putin himself has not yet been included in the sanctions list, although a significant part of his closest circle has been on the EU and US sanctions lists for several years.

The remaining sanctions adopted today are similar to those adopted by the Federation after the annexation of Crimea. So they strike the banks that finance Russian military operations and other operations in the territory of the “republics”. It also prohibits investment and trade with two breakaway regions in eastern Donbass. The United States has also adopted similar restrictions on Lugansk and Donetsk.

“The sanctions that were adopted today will hurt Russia very much,” Borrell said. Today’s EU sanctions package was drafted in consultations between Brussels and the US administration on Monday night. The original draft was milder, being designed “only” to recognize the breakaway state. It was reinforced after the official decision to deploy Russian troops in Donbass.

The union unanimously approved the sanctions

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also spoke by phone last night with several prime ministers of EU countries, including Mateusz Moravec. Also during these nightly consultations he received assurances from Prime Minister Viktor Orban of his support for the union’s unanimous decision on sanctions. Various voices come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or from the meeting of EU ambassadors, but it is the Prime Minister who decides. Orban’s message about unity was clear to Michel – a senior official in European institutions explained on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s EU decision means that more serious sanctions, including those related to the financial sector and bans on the export of high-tech goods, have left Brussels – like the United States – in reserve. The Baltic states have already called for much heavier weapons to be used, but the EU’s largest have strongly encouraged a “gradual” approach to the restrictions. So what could make the restrictions even tighter? More than half of Donbass is still under the control of Ukraine. Could the military’s attempt, with the support of Russia, to change the current line of demarcation be described as an “armed invasion”?

– Now we have not discussed the details of the next escalation limits on which the tightening of sanctions will depend – our interlocutor explains. Each tightening of restrictions also means costs to EU countries (also as a result of expected Russian counter-sanctions), and thus the need for additional efforts to strengthen the consensus required to agree to EU sanctions.

Leaving the Nord Stream 2 case to Berlin’s decision, formally outside the EU sanctions package, from the outset was a solution discussed during the EU’s preparations regarding the restrictions. – Welcome to a brave new world where Europeans will soon pay €2,000 for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas! Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, threatened on Twitter.

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