The European Commission has updated and re-issued its consolidated list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the implementation of Council Regulations 833/2014 and 269/2014, covering the restrictive measures imposed on Russia and Belarus in connection with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
The FAQs cover the scope, purpose and duration of the restrictive measures. They answer questions posed by European citizens who are trying to determine whether contemplated personal or business transactions are permitted under the sanctions, and by Russian nationals attempting to understand whether they may continue to access bank accounts and assets in Europe.
The FAQs are conveniently divided into sectors such as energy, agricultural products, trade and customs, and finance and banking. A final chapter answers industry-specific questions concerning chemicals, aviation, media, port access, road transport, state-owned enterprises, public procurement, intellectual property rights, and humanitarian aid.
Some of the questions have straightforward answers – whether intellectual property or seagoing vessels are subject to the sanctions (they are) – while some cannot be answered without delving into the specifics of the case. Several questions address the reinforced reporting obligations of Article 8 of Council Regulation (EU) No. 833/2014, and numerous questions are aimed at clarifying the application of the restrictive measures to transactions in securities of all kinds. The FAQs explain that transshipment of goods through Russia does not alone subject them to sanctions. The FAQs attempt to clarify the depth and breadth of due diligence required of parties doing business in Europe in order to comply with the restrictive measures. The FAQs also help define what “acting on behalf or at the direction of” a sanctioned entity means in the context of the restrictive measures. From the direction of some of the questions, it appears that financial institutions in the European Union have in some instances construed the restrictive measures overbroadly, freezing bank accounts that need not have been frozen under the sanctions.