In September 28, 2022 press statements, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative/Vice President, Josep Borrell, describe the eighth package of sanctions to be imposed upon Russia in response to the Kremlin’s attempt to escalate the invasion of Ukraine. The escalation that prompted the new sanctions were the recent attempts by Russia to issue sham “referenda” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine in what von der Leyen called “an illegal attempt to grab land and change international borders by force.” Von der Leyen also indicated that “the mobilization and Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons are further steps on the escalation path.”
In her statement, von der Leyen focused on the second part of the new sanctions that will further restrict trade with Russia. In an effort to further isolate Russia and impact its economy, von der Leyen proposed sweeping new import bans on additional Russian products to deprive Russia of EUR 7 billion in revenues. Von der Leyen also proposed an extension of the list of products that can no longer to exported to Russia to include aviation items, electronic components and specific chemical substances in order weaken Russia’s capacity to modernize. The EU will also ban additional services to Russia and prohibit EU nationals from sitting on governing bodies of Russian state-owned enterprises.
Von der Leyen also addressed the third part of the sanctions package which concerns Russian oil. Because certain developing counties still need some Russian oil supplies, the G7 agreed to introduce a price cap on Russian oil for these third counties. In the eighth package of sanctions, the EU will be laying the legal basis for this oil price cap. In addition, the EU will be stepping up efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion by adding a new category that will enable the listing of individuals who specifically circumvent sanctions.
HR/VP Borrell began his statement by emphasizing that he and the von der Leyen condemned Russia’s illegal “referenda” in the strongest possible terms and called it “a pure violation of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.” In addition to the trade restrictions described by von der Leyen, Borrell indicated that the new sanctions package will include numerous individual designations. First, the EU will target those involved in the Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of areas of Ukraine, including the proxy authorities who facilitated the sham “referenda” in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia areas of Ukraine. The second group to be targeted is Russia’s defense sector, which will specifically include high-ranking officials of the Russian Ministry of Defense, among others. The third group will include the actors who spread disinformation about the war, and, in particular, those in the Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine. This includes economic actors that are not necessarily Russians but are people who participate in the circumvention of sanctions. Finally, Borrell stated that the EU will extend the geographical scope of the restrictions that apply to Crimea, to Donetsk and Luhansk. These restrictions will cover all non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the oblasts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
Borrell ended his statement by stating that sanctions work and sanctions matter but only when they are maintained over time and are not circumvented.