EU may ban trade in Russian state bonds, sanction hundreds of people

EU may ban trade in Russian state bonds, sanction hundreds of people
February 22 13:40 2022 Print This Article

EU diplomats and officials on Tuesday said EU sanctions on Russia could include blacklist on politicians and officials, a ban on trading in Russian state bonds, import and export ban on separatist entities.

The bloc’s ambassadors agreed unanimously at a meeting in Brussels on the principle of imposing sanctions after Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers will meet in Paris to agree on the details of the measures, several diplomats said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement on Monday, followed by his signing a decree on the deployment of Russian troops to Donetsk and Luhansk, drew international condemnation and immediate U.S. sanctions.

The EU has repeatedly said it was ready to impose “massive consequences” on Russia’s economy if Moscow invades Ukraine but has also cautioned that, given the EU’s close energy and trade ties to Russia, it wants to ratchet up sanctions in stages.

“We’ve got to ensure that whatever happens, Russia will feel the pain … to make sure Russia has absolutely no incentive to go further,” Irish EU affairs minister Thomas Byrne said earlier.

Not all of the bloc’s 27 member states have the same relation to Russia or dependency on its gas, which could complicate the adoption of sanctions.

EU officials and diplomats said some EU countries, including Austria, Hungary and Italy, Russia’s closest allies in the bloc, would prefer more limited sanctions in response to Putin’s move on eastern Ukraine.

Others want to see a fuller, tougher range of measures discussed in recent weeks for the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine to be rolled out now.

Baltic, central and eastern European states say tough sanctions should be imposed immediately as Russia is already showing military aggression towards Ukraine.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, whose country relies on Russian for much of its gas, told a news conference in Rome that any sanctions should not include energy imports.

“How we react as European Union will define our character and indeed the future of Europe,” Lithuanian vice minister of foreign affairs Arnoldas Pranckevicius said at a meeting in Brussels.

The sanctions “should not be symbolic. If we want to deter further actions from president Putin, if we want to stop the war from happening, we need to move ahead with serious measures.”

A senior EU diplomat told Reuters there was “a whole escalation ladder, starting with Russian individuals and moving up to finance, trade, and eventually energy. So, technically, a lot is possible.”

“What’s at question today is how far they will go,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told RTE broadcaster.

“I suspect it will be incremental because everybody wants diplomacy to reduce tension.’’

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