On September 17, 2020, Europe’s High Court of Justice upheld the sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia in July 2014, over Rosneft’s objections that the sanction restrictions were improper, misplaced, and breached the EU-Russia Partnership Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In July of 2014, the EU imposed sanctions against Russia that prohibited the export of certain sensitive products and technologies, and essentially blocked certain companies from accessing EU’s capital markets, in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilization of Ukraine. Rosneft Oil Company PAO, is a Russian government-controlled petroleum and gas company that was negatively affected by the sanctions.
In 2014, Rosneft sought to overturn the restrictions shortly after they were implemented, but its efforts failed when the General Court dismissed its claim in 2018, resulting in the appeal to the High Court of Justice. The High Court upheld the lower court’s decision and dismissed the appeal in its entirety, finding that EU’s sanctions were legal, and their restrictions clearly contributed to the objective of placing economic restrictions on Russia to promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Crimea. The High Court also noted that Rosneft did not dispute that it met the criteria for the Council’s “targeted measures,” and had no reason to question why the targeted restrictions were imposed upon the company. Finally, the Court found that the restrictive measures imposed by the EU were compatible with the EU-Russia Partnership Agreement and GATT, holding that both provisions contained “security exceptions” that enabled the parties to protect their national security interests.