| 4 March 2024, Monday |

EU to sanction more Russian oligarchs, Belarus banks

According to three sources, the European Commission has planned a fresh package of sanctions on Russia and Belarus in response to their invasion of Ukraine, which would target more Russian oligarchs and officials, as well as three Belarusian banks.

According to one source, the proposed measures were accepted by the EU executive on Tuesday morning and will be debated by EU ambassadors in a conference beginning at 1400 GMT.

According to Reuters, the draft package will bar three Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT financial system and add numerous more billionaires and Russian legislators to the EU blacklist.

The package also bans exports from the EU of naval equipment and software to Russia and provides guidance on the monitoring of cryptocurrencies to avoid their use to circumvent EU sanctions, the sources said.

Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to disarm its neighbor and arrest leaders it calls “neo-Nazis”. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for an invasion to conquer a country of 44 million people.

EU diplomats have so far approved sanctions proposed by the EU Commission against Russia and Belarus without any changes.

The EU has already excluded seven Russian banks from SWIFT, but had not included Belarusian banks.

The sources declined to name the new lenders to be sanctioned.

One source said the package also listed oligarchs and members of Russia’s Federation Council, which is the upper house of the Russian Parliament.

So far EU sanctions have hit hundreds of members of the lower house, the Duma, who voted in favour of Russia’s recognition of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

The EU will also expand its ban on EU exports of advanced technology to Russia, mostly supporting the ban on the export of maritime technology, the sources said.

The ban on the export of naval equipment and software to Russia is mainly meant to hit its shipping sector, one source said.

  • Reuters