From oil to assets, Western sanctions target Russian economy
A model of the gas pipeline is placed on a Russian ruble banknote and a flag in this illustration taken March 23, 2022. – Reuters pic
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 9:35 PM MYT
PARIS, May 31 — From oil embargoes to asset freezes and bans on new investment, the list of Western sanctions imposed on the Russian economy since it invaded Ukraine continues to grow.
Here is an overview:
European Union leaders agreed yesterday to ban most Russian oil imports, following criticism for not acting sooner.
They reached a deal that bans imports of oil delivered by tankers but exempts deliveries by pipeline – and allows Hungary to continue receiving Russian crude.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the deal would cut around 90% of Russian oil imports from the EU by the end of the year.
The EU plans to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds over the same period and ban European companies from making new investments in the sector. Russian coal purchases should stop from August.
Another highly symbolic decision, the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was to increase the supply of Russian gas to Germany.
The United States and Canada have imposed their own embargoes on Russian oil and gas while Britain will phase them out by the end of the year.
Transport The EU has closed its ports to Russian ships and Russian truckers are also banned from operating in the bloc.
EU members as well as the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland have closed their airspace to Russian planes and many Western airlines have halted flights to Russia.
The wider aviation industry is concerned as the export of aircraft, parts and equipment has been banned, as has maintenance work on Russian-registered Airbuses and Boeings. Western insurers cannot provide coverage.
EU sanctions include export bans on products such as luxury cars and watches, as well as specialty semiconductors, chemicals and catalysts to target Russian technology and industrial sectors.
The list of Russian products banned in the EU has been extended to include steel products, cement, rubber products and wood.
Imports of Russian vodka and caviar have already been banned by the EU and the US.
They also stripped Russia and Belarus of their “most favored nation” trading status, imposing punitive tariffs on their exports.
EU leaders agreed yesterday that their sixth sanctions package will include a measure to bar Russia’s Sberbank from the SWIFT financial messaging system.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, said it was unaffected by measures to make international payments difficult.
“We are working as normal – key restrictions are already in place,” the bank said, referring to previous US and UK sanctions that have already isolated its financial system.
The US, EU and Britain have frozen foreign currencies held by Russia’s central bank and banned all transactions with the institution.
US credit card giants Visa, Mastercard and American Express have blocked Russian banks from their payment networks.
The United States is also ending an exemption allowing Moscow to pay foreign debt held by American investors with funds held in Russia, a move that could bring Vladimir Putin’s country closer to default.
Hundreds of Russians have been hit by US and European sanctions, including the adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Today the EU extended its blacklist to around 60 people, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill. They are now banned from entering the EU and their assets are frozen.
Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko have already been targeted by sanctions, as has Igor Sechin, the boss of the Russian oil company Rosneft. —AFP