Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: EU adopts sixth package of sanctions

@European Union, 2018@European Union, 2018

The European Commission welcomes the adoption of the sixth package of restrictive measures against Russia. Sanctions are among the EU’s most visible, direct and powerful responses to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, including systemic violence and atrocities against the civilian population. This package also imposes further sanctions against Belarus considering its involvement in this aggression. Together with the previous five packages, the sanctions adopted today are unprecedented and designed to further increase economic pressure on Russia and undermine its ability to wage its war on Ukraine. Like with previous sanctions packages, they have been coordinated with international partners.

Today’s package contains a complete import ban on all Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products. This covers 90% of our current oil imports from Russia. The ban is subject to certain transition periods to allow the sector and global markets to adapt, and a temporary exemption for pipeline crude oil to ensure that Russian oil is phased out in an orderly fashion. This will allow the EU and its partners to secure alternative supplies and minimises the impact on global oil prices.

As regards export restrictions, today’s package includes restrictions on chemicals that could be used in manufacturing chemical weapons.

Beyond sanctions, the EU has made it clear that reducing our dependence on energy imports from Russia is an urgent imperative. The Commission adopted its REPowerEU Plan on 18 May 2022 to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible and to tackle the climate crisis.

Based on a proposal by the High Representative, the EU has also today listed high-ranking military officers and other individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha and who are responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol. It also includes entities involved in the military sector, and manufacturing equipment and software, used in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The new listings include political, propaganda and business figures, and individuals with close ties to the Kremlin.

Today’s package contains the following elements:

 1) Oil import restrictions

  • In 2021, the EU imported €48 billion worth of crude oil and €23 billion of refined oil products from Russia. Based on a joint proposal from the High Representative (of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the Commission, Member States have today decided to impose an embargo on the imports of these products. These sanctions will come into force with immediate effect, and will phase out Russian oil imports in an orderly fashion. For seaborne crude oil, spot market transactions and execution of existing contracts will be permitted for six months after entry into force, while for petroleum products, these will be permitted for eight months after entry into force. Member States who have a particular pipeline dependency on Russia can benefit from a temporary exemption and continue to receive crude oil delivered by pipeline, until the Council decides otherwise. However, Member States benefiting from this exemption will not be able to resell such crude oil and petroleum products to other Member States or third countries.
  • Due to its specific geographical exposure, a special temporary derogation until the end of 2024 has been agreed for Bulgaria which will be able to continue to import crude oil and petroleum products via maritime transport. In addition, Croatia will be able to authorise until the end of 2023 the import of Russian vacuum gas oil which is needed for the functioning of its refinery.

2) Oil transport services

  • After a wind down period of 6 months, EU operators will be prohibited from insuring and financing the transport, in particular through maritime routes, of oil to third countries.
  • This will make it particularly difficult for Russia to continue exporting its crude oil and petroleum products to the rest of the world since EU operators are important providers of such services.

 3) Financial and business services measures

  • An additional three Russian banks, including Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, and one additional Belarussian bank have been removed from SWIFT. These banks are critical for the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to further wage war. It will solidify the isolation of the Russian financial sector from the global system.
  • The measures on trusts have been refined and appropriate exceptions have been laid down in a revised version of the provision (e.g. for humanitarian purposes or civil society).
  • The provision of certain business-relevant services – directly or indirectly – such as accounting, auditing, statutory audit, bookkeeping and tax consulting services, business and management consulting, and public relations services to the Russian government, as well as to legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia are now prohibited.

4) Broadcasting suspension

  • The broadcasting activities of another three Russian State outlets – Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24, and TV Centre International – have been suspended. They are among the most important pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets targeting audiences in Ukraine and the EU, and disseminating propaganda in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
  • Several regulators in EU Member States have already taken action against those Russian state-controlled broadcasters and channels. They will now be barred from distributing their content across the EU, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps.
  • The advertising of products or services on sanctioned outlets has also been prohibited.

5) Export restrictions

  • Today’s package includes further export restrictions. The list of advanced technology items banned from export to Russia has been expanded to include additional chemicals that could be used in the process of manufacture of chemical weapons, already controlled since 2013 for other destinations such as Syria. Moreover, today’s package further expands the list of natural, legal persons or entities associated with Russia’s military-industrial complex. These natural, legal persons or entities are involved in various sectors, such as electronics, communications, weapons, shipyards, engineering and scientific research. This update brings the EU in alignment with United States measures, while other partners are expected to align in the near future.
  • The package adds the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea to the Annex of partner countries that have adopted substantially equivalent export restrictions.
  • The list of Belarusian entities subject to restrictions has been significantly widened (from 1 entity to 25). This is related to authorisations for the sale, supply, transfer or export of dual-use goods and technology, as well as goods and technology which might contribute to Belarus’s military and technological enhancement, or to the development of its defence and security sector.

More Information

The Commission and the High Representative stand ready to put forward additional sanctions in response to the evolution of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Member States are responsible for the implementation of sanctions. To ensure that the six adopted packages are implemented as effectively and consistently as possible, the Commission is stepping up its outreach to stakeholders and authorities to provide guidance and share information and best practices.

Today’s package builds on the wide-ranging and unprecedented packages of measures the EU has been taking in response to Russia’s acts of aggression against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and mounting atrocities against Ukrainian civilians and cities. The EU stands united in solidarity with Ukraine, and will continue to support Ukraine and its people together with its international partners, including through additional political, financial and humanitarian support.

For More Information

Questions and answers on the sixth package of sanctions

European Commission website on EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus

European Commission website on Ukraine

Questions and answers on restrictive measures