EU strengthens sanctions against Russia through its 12th package of measures
On 18 December 2023, the European Union announced the adoption of its 12th package of sanctions against Russia, underscoring its commitment to addressing the ongoing geopolitical challenges. This comprehensive set of measures aims to intensify existing restrictions, impose additional import and export bans, and tackle loopholes and sanctions circumvention.
The 12th package is implemented through the publication of Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/2871, amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP and Council Regulation (EU) 2023/2878 amending Regulation (EU) 833/2014. Additionally, further listings are made to the asset freeze regime under Council Regulation (EU) 269/2014.
The key elements and implications of the EU's latest package comprise the following:
Sanctions Listings: One notable aspect of this package involves the expansion of the sanctions list, with the addition of over 140 individuals and entities to the sanctions list. Spanning across military, defence, IT, and economic sectors, these listings include actors responsible for recent illegal "elections" in occupied Ukrainian territories, those involved in the forced "re-education" of Ukrainian children, and entities spreading disinformation in support of Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
Trade Measures: The EU has strategically targeted Russia's economic revenue streams with a series of trade measures. A notable component is the import ban on Russian diamonds, affecting both industrial and non-industrial diamonds. Coordinated with G7 partners, this ban seeks to disrupt a substantial revenue stream estimated at €4 billion per year.
The phased implementation will extend to diamonds polished in third countries and lab-grown diamonds.
Additionally, the package introduces import bans on raw materials for steel production, processed aluminium products, and other metal goods. Export restrictions include controls on dual-use and advanced technological goods, further undermining Russia's military capabilities.
Stricter Asset Freeze Obligations: The 12th package introduces new listing criteria to freeze assets of persons benefiting from the forced transfer of ownership or control over Russian subsidiaries of EU companies. This measure aims to prevent individuals from profiting when EU companies face forced acquisitions by Russian owners or management.
Energy Measures: To make it more challenging for Russia to sustain its military activities, the EU has tightened the international G7+ oil price cap. This involves monitoring the sale of tankers to third countries and implementing more detailed attestation requirements. Additionally, a new import ban on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has been introduced, impacting over €1 billion in annual imports.
Anti-Circumvention Measures: Efforts to combat sanctions circumvention have been intensified, including a broader transit prohibition through Russia for economically critical goods intended for export to third countries. Operators are now contractually obligated to prohibit the re-export of certain sensitive goods to Russia, and a new measure requires the notification of fund transfers from EU entities with over 40 per cent Russian ownership.
The package also introduces derogations allowing Member States to act in the public interest, compensate damages through listed insurance companies, and sell EU companies owned by certain listed individuals or entities. Noteworthy technical amendments, such as allowing pilot services for maritime safety, are included.