War in Ukraine: sanctions against Russia and Belarus

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State of play regarding sanctions against Russia and Belarus

In 2014, the illegal annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of eastern Ukraine by Russia led to the adoption of initial European Union sanctions against Russia. Concerning Belarus, the sanctions regime was stepped up in 2020 following the rigged presidential election, and again in 2021 in response to persistent repression, the forced landing of a Ryanair flight and the regime’s orchestration of a migration crisis with the EU.

Since February 2022 and the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, the European Union has adopted several sanctions packages in coordination with its partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the other G7 countries.

Specific sanctions have also been adopted against Belarus because of its involvement in the war.

Russia

The European Union’s sanctions against Russia aim to increase the cost of the war for the Russian regime. They are based on several pillars:

1. Individual sanctions aimed at pressuring political and economic backers of the Russian regime and the leaders of the separatist entities in Donetsk and Luhansk. These sanctions include asset freezes and an EU entry ban and target more than 1,200 Russian individuals and entities, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

2. Massive financial sanctions to dry up the capacity to finance the Russian economy, including:

  • A ban on transactions concerning the assets and reserves of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation;
  • Restrictions on purchases of Russian sovereign debt and financial flows from Russia;
  • Exclusion of certain Russian banking institutions from the SWIFT secure messaging network, including Sberbank and VTB, the country’s largest and second-largest banks.

3. Economic sanctions aimed at key sectors of the Russian economy, including energy, transport, aviation, the defence industry and commodities.
These measures include bans on the export or import of certain goods to or from Russia (including aircraft and related equipment, dual-use items, high-technology goods, materials, etc.), bans of Russian-flagged ships from ports and additional restrictions on the services sector.

The energy sector, which is strategic for financing the Russian war effort, is a particular target. The EU Member States have decided to ban imports of Russian coal, as well as imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia by sea. That represents a more-than-90% cut in imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia.

4. Measures addressing disinformation and misinformation campaigns, including suspension of broadcasting by Sputnik, RT and Russia 24 in the EU Member States until the aggression against Ukraine ends.

Moreover, specific restrictions have been put in place on trade and investment with entities in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Humanitarian exceptions have been adopted by the EU in order to avoid obstructing aid to the Ukrainian people.

Belarus

The EU’s sanctions regime against Belarus in response to its involvement in the war in Ukraine includes similar measures to those against Russia, but takes into account the specificities of developments in the country since the rigged presidential election in 2020.

1. Individual sanctions targeting political and economic backers of the Belarusian regime and figures responsible for oppression of the opposition. These measures target more than 200 Belarusian individuals and entities.

2. Financial sanctions including, in addition to restrictions on the financing of certain Belarusian banks that were already in place, a ban on transactions concerning the assets and reserves of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus and the exclusion of several Belarusian banks from the SWIFT secure messaging network.

3. Economic sanctions, particularly import bans in key sectors of the Belarusian economy, including hydrocarbons, potash, transport and commodities.
Since the beginning of the crisis, sanctions have been adopted in close coordination with our international partners and allies, including the United Kingdom,the United States and the other G7 countries, which are implementing their own sanctions regimes.

uptaded: June 2022