Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: EU adopts “maintenance and alignment” package

In response to Russia’s continuing war of aggression against Ukraine, the Council adopted today new measures intended to tighten existing economic sanctions targeting Russia, perfect their implementation and strengthen their effectiveness.

Today, we are taking another important step to curtail Russia’s capacity to continue and finance its war of aggression against Ukraine. We are effectively banning Russia’s most significant export after energy – Russian gold. We are also extending the exemption of transactions for agricultural products and transfer of oil to third countries. Because the EU is doing its part to ensure we can overcome the looming global food crisis. It is up to Russia, to stop bombing Ukraine’s fields and silos, and stop blocking Black Sea ports.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Today’s “maintenance and alignment” package introduces a new prohibition to purchase, import, or transfer, directly or indirectly, gold, if it originates in Russia and it has been exported from Russia into the EU or to any third country after. This prohibition also covers jewellery.

The package also extends the list of controlled items, which may contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement or the development of its defence and security sector, thereby reinforcing export controls on dual use and advanced technology.

Furthermore, the new measures extend the existing port access ban to locks to avoid the circumvention of sanctions and expand the scope of the prohibition on accepting deposits to include those from legal persons, entities or bodies established in third countries and majority-owned by Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia. The acceptance of deposits for non-prohibited cross-border trade will be subject to a prior authorisation by the national competent authorities.

The EU is also introducing a number of clarifications to existing measures, for instance in the field of public procurement, aviation and justice. For instance, technical assistance to Russia for aviation goods and technology will be allowed insofar as it is needed to safeguard the technical industrial standard setting work of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the prohibition to enter into any transactions with Russian public entities will be slightly amended to ensure access to justice.

With a view to avoid any potential negative consequences for food and energy security around the world, the EU decided to extend the exemption from the prohibition to engage in transactions with certain state-owned entities as regards transactions for agricultural products and the transport of oil to third countries.

More broadly, the EU is committed to avoiding all measures which might lead to food insecurity around the globe. None of the measures adopted today or earlier in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine target in any way the trade in agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers, between third countries and Russia.

Similarly, EU measures do not prevent third countries and their nationals operating outside of the EU from purchasing pharmaceutical or medical products from Russia.

In addition to economic sanctions, the Council decided to list additional individuals and entities and strengthen reporting requirements, putting the burden of declaring assets onto sanctioned people, in order to facilitate the freezing of their assets in the EU.

The EU firmly stands with Ukraine and will continue to provide strong support for Ukraine’s overall economic, military, social and financial resilience, including humanitarian aid.

The EU resolutely condemns Russia’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and urges Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. International humanitarian law, including on the treatment of prisoners of war, must be respected. Ukrainians, notably children, who have been forcibly removed to Russia must be immediately allowed to return safely. Russia, Belarus and all those responsible for war crimes and the other most serious crimes will be held to account for their actions, in accordance with international law.

In its conclusions of 23-24 June 2022, the European Council stated that work would continue on sanctions, including to strengthen implementation and prevent circumvention.

The relevant legal acts will soon be published in the Official Journal.