| 8 December 2023, Friday |

No quick deal in sight as EU countries start talks on new Russia sanctions

On Wednesday, European Union member states will conduct the first debate on proposed additional sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine, which would target Chinese and Iranian enterprises and authorize export limitations on third nations for violating current trade restrictions.

According to one diplomat, talks among EU envoys begin at 0800 GMT and are expected to be contentious, with Russia hawks furious that the plan does not go far enough but others cautious of jeopardizing their international connections.

Widely differing perspectives mean a quick deal is not expected, several diplomats said.

The EU’s chief executive unveiled the plan on a symbolic trip to Kyiv on Tuesday – a counterbalance to annual celebrations in Moscow of the World War Two victory over Nazi Germany that President Vladimir Putin likens to his invasion of Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the new sanctions would focus on cracking down on circumvention of Russia trade curbs already in place, and were designed “in very close coordination” with Group of Seven (G7) nations.

“If we see that goods are going from the European Union to third countries and then end up in Russia, we could propose to the member states to sanction those goods’ export. This tool will be a last resort and it will be used cautiously,” she said.

She added the EU would stop transit via Russia of more of its exports, including advanced tech products and aircraft parts.

Diplomatic sources familiar with the proposal – drafted by von der Leyen’s Commission – said it also included blacklisting “tens” of new companies, including from China, Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The new sanctions would highlight that oil tankers are not allowed to offload in high seas or arrive in ports with their GPS trackers off, an attempt to push back against flouting G7 restrictions on trading Russian oil, according to the sources.

  • Reuters