EU member states agree on tenth sanctions package against Russia, not including diamond boycott
On Friday evening, exactly one year after the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the 27 European Union member states reached an agreement on a tenth sanctions package against Russia, including additional trade restrictions. Diplomats confirmed this after consultations between member states. A boycott of Russian diamonds was blocked by Belgium so far, but prime minister Alexander De Croo is now taking a boycott proposal to the G7.
Negotiations took longer than planned, mainly because Poland initially wanted more than the punitive measures proposed by the European Commission. According to EU sources, the country wanted to target more confidants and relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin with punitive measures, while Hungary wanted to remove names from the existing sanctions list. There was also disagreement over exemptions for imports of Russian synthetic rubber, used - among other things - for car tyres. According to Poland, the proposed exemptions were so large as to make the sanctions ineffective, insiders say.
Nevertheless, the 27 countries eventually agreed on the 10th package, which commission president Ursula von der Leyen says represents over €11 billion worth of sanctions. The new sanctions include export bans from the EU on components or goods that could contribute to Russian warfare, such as certain electronics components. Also listed are Iranian companies that make and/or sell drones to Russia. Putin's propagandists are also targeted.
The Belgian finance minister has revealed that Belgium froze 58 billion euros worth of Russian assets, the highest amount of any European member state.
A boycott of Russian diamonds failed to make it onto the European sanctions list against Russia, as Belgium has repeatedly swept the proposal off the table. However, the cabinet of Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo is now taking the boycott proposal to the G7, having first presented the concept to the European Commission and the US. Flemish newspaper De Standaard reported on Friday that, at the request of Belgium, the G7 is preparing a ban on Russian diamonds. The ban will pave the way for a boycott on one of the following European sanctions lists. Meanwhile, the Belgian finance minister has revealed that Belgium froze 58 billion euros worth of Russian assets in the past year, the highest amount of any European member state.
The agreement on the EU's tenth sanctions package now remains to be formalised in a written procedure on Saturday. The package will then enter into force with its publication in the EU's Official Journal.
EU commission president Ursula Von der Leyen (left) and European Council president Charles Michel (right) © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE