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European Union Approves New Sanction Package on Russian Oligarchs and Belarusian Banks

La Unión Europea aprueba nuevo paquete de sanciones a oligarcas rusos y bancos bielorrusos

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European Union (EU) countries on Wednesday approved the imposition of new sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including adding more Russian oligarchs, politicians, and their family members to the blacklist and disconnecting three Belarusian banks from the SWIFT international communication system.

The new restrictive measures, adopted today by the EU-27 permanent representatives, are also joined by “sanctions targeting the maritime sector,” the French EU presidency reported on its official Twitter account.

The new measures, whose function is to “complement and align” the three batches of sanctions already adopted and in force to date, “clarify the issue of cryptocurrencies and complete the list of technologies and goods that cannot be exported,” the French presidency notes.

These sanctions will be formally adopted by the Council by written procedure with a view to their rapid publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, at which point they will enter into force.

The new package was discussed last Friday by the EU-27 foreign ministers and, although they did not take any decision at the time, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said he would add more Russian oligarchs to the list of sanctioned and that the banks excluded from the SWIFT system would be expanded.

Since the invasion began on February 24, the EU has expelled seven Russian banks from the interbank system, including Sberbank, the country’s largest institution, and Gazprombank, because they process a large part of the energy operations with the bloc.

It froze the assets of the Russian Central Bank in EU territory, sanctioned the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, among other high-ranking government officials, as well as the country’s military leadership.

It also imposed an airspace ban on any aircraft operated by Russian airlines, approved a trade embargo on several sectors of strategic importance for the Russian economy, and suspended the broadcasting activities in the EU of the Russian state-owned media Sputnik and Russia Today.

The EU has progressively imposed sanctions against Russia since 2014 in response to the then illegal annexation of Crimea.

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