On April 8, 2022, the Council of the EU announced that it adopted a fifth round of sanctions against Russia that, according to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, is in response to recent “atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation.” The sanctions are intended to reinforce pressure on the Russian government and economy and limit the Kremlin’s resources for the illegal aggression.
The new sanctions package prohibits the purchase, import or transfer of coal and other solid fossil fuels into the EU if they originate from Russia or are exported from Russia starting in August 2022 – imports that are reportedly worth €8 billion per year. The EU bans Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from EU ports and Russian and Belarusian road transport operators, with certain exemptions for essentials such as agriculture/food products, energy and humanitarian aid. There are new targeted export bans on items such as quantum computers and advanced semiconductors worth €10 billion, and specific import bans on a range of products such as wood, cement, fertilizer, seafood and liquor worth €5.5 billion. The EU also imposed a series of targeted economic measures intended to strengthen existing measures and close loopholes such as the exclusion of all forms financial support from the EU to Russian public bodies; a general ban on the participation of Russian companies in public procurement in member states; and an extended ban on deposits to crypto-wallets and the sale of banknotes and transferrable securities in official member state-denominated currencies to Russia and Belarus. In addition, the Council sanctioned companies and key oligarchs and businesspersons whose products have played an important role in the invasion or are proponents of disinformation spread by the Kremlin, including Kremlin officials and family members of sanctioned individuals. Finally, the EU imposes a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, including BTB, Russia’s second largest bank.
The European Council also demanded that Russia stop its military aggression in Ukraine immediately, withdraw all of its forces from Ukraine, and respect its territorial integrity. The relevant legal acts will soon be published in the Official Journal.
This action comes just days after President von der Leyen’s April 5, 2022 press statement in which he described the fifth round of sanctions to be issued in response to the recent massacres of civilians during Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. President von der Leyen also indicated at that time that she had assured President Zelenskyy of the European Commission’s full support during these terrible times and set up a Joint Investigation Team with Ukraine to collect evidence and investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.