On 24th February 2023, exactly one year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Council of the European Union adopted the 10th package of restrictive measures against Russia (the “package”).
The package significantly extends the scope of EU restrictive measures adopted against Russia adding about 120 individuals and entities to EU sanctions. The list includes Russian decision-makers and government officials as well as military leaders who played a role in supporting the aggression, such as military commanders of the Wagner group. Additionally, the Council targets individuals involved in the kidnapping of Ukrainian children and organisations, media groups and individuals engaged in propagandist activities and disinformation. Importantly, the EU targets, for the first time, Iranian entities that fabricate and supply military drones to Russia. The package also covers three Russian banks and several economic actors supporting the government of Russia, such as Alfa-Bank or the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation.
Furthermore, the package comprises new export bans and restrictions that cover EU exports of an estimated value of 11.4 billion euros. Export bans concern specifically critical technology and industrial goods such as specialised vehicles, electronics or machine parts as well as goods for the construction sector. The import bans have been extended to bitumen, synthetic rubber and carbon blacks which generate significant revenues for Russia. In addition, in order to avoid circumvention of the imposed restrictions, the package introduces a transit ban for dual-use goods, advanced technology and firearms via the Russian territory. The package introduces also a prohibition to provide gas storage capacity to Russian nationals.
The package seeks to reinforce the effectiveness of the asset freeze prohibitions by providing for more detailed reporting obligations on funds and economic resources belonging to listed individuals and entities. Member States and the European Commission have been also subject to new reporting obligations on immobilized reserves and assets of the Central Bank of Russia, whose activities have been substantially hampered vis-à-vis the European financial market since its subscription in Regulation (EU) No 2022/262.
Overall, the package aims to further weaken the ability of Russian natural and legal persons to finance the war of aggression against Ukraine. According to the Swedish EU presidency, the package includes “the most forceful and far-reaching sanctions ever to help Ukraine win the war". In its recent Conclusions adopted on 9th February 2023, the European Council reiterated “its resolute condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which constitutes a manifest violation of the UN Charter”. The important extension of sanctions on the day of the anniversary of the war sends a clear message of continuous support and solidarity of the EU and its Member States with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. On the international scene, a call for immediate end to war has also been expressed recently by the United Nations General Assembly, which on 23rd February 2023 adopted the Resolution (A/ES-11/L.7) reaffirming the Assembly’s “commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders”.
Alicja Słowik, The 10th package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia adopted on 24th February 2023, actualité du CEJE n° 08/2023, 28 février 2023, disponible sur www.ceje.ch