News Item: From coal to ports, Western sanctions target Russian economy
From a coal embargo to new restrictions on investments and European ports closed to Russian ships, the list of Western sanctions imposed on Russia’s economy since it invaded Ukraine keeps getting longer.
Here is an overview:
– Energy –
The European Union decided Thursday to forgo from August purchases of Russian coal, which accounts for about 45 percent of its total imports.
EU nations have already announced their intention to cut their imports of Russian gas by two thirds by the end of the year, as well as ban European companies from making new investments in the sector critical for the Russian economy.
In another highly symbolic decision, Germany has suspended the entry into service of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which was due to have allowed a significant increase in imports.
But the bloc has been reluctant to impose a ban on Russian gas and oil so far, as member states such as Germany are heavily dependent on Moscow’s fossil fuel exports.
The United States and Canada have imposed their own embargoes of Russian oil and gas.
Britain plans to end imports of Russian coal by the end of the year, as it has already pledged to do for Russian crude oil and petroleum products.
– Transportation –
The EU announced Thursday it is closing its ports to Russian ships. Russian truckers are also banned from operating in the bloc.
EU members as well as the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland have closed their airspace to Russian aircraft and many Western airlines have halted flights to Russia.
The wider aerospace industry is concerned as the export of aircraft, parts and equipment has been banned, as has maintenance work on Russian-registered Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Western insurers cannot provide coverage.
– Trade –
The fifth EU sanctions package adopted Thursday includes a 10-billion-euro ($10.9 billion) ban on exports to Russia, including high-tech goods.
The list of Russian products banned from the EU is also being extended to include certain “critical raw materials and equipment” worth an estimated 5.5 billion euros a year to stop the financing of Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.
Shortly before the EU adopted its latest sanctions package, US lawmakers voted to revoke most favoured nation status for Russia and its ally Belarus, which will result on goods from them facing high US import tariffs. Imports of Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds have been banned outright.
The United States on Wednesday also banned any new investment in Russia, and Britain has as well.
– Financial sector –
The US Treasury has blocked Russia from using dollars held in US banks to make payments on its foreign debt, forcing Moscow to settle in rubles which sets up a likely default.
The White House also declared “full blocking” sanctions on Russia’s largest public and private financial institutions, Sberbank and Alfa Bank.
The United States, EU and Britain have frozen foreign currency held by the Russian central bank and banned all transactions with the institution.
Most Russian banks were earlier cut from the SWIFT messaging system, which allows banks to communicate rapidly and securely about transactions.
US credit card giants Visa, Mastercard and American Express have blocked Russian banks from their payment networks.
– Key individuals –
Hundreds of Russian individuals have been hit by US and EU sanctions, including the adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The EU added 18 Russian entities and 200 people to its black list on Thursday alone.
Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko have been sanctioned, as has Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil firm Rosneft.
Britain has sanctioned 82 Russian oligarchs with 172 billion pounds (200 billion euros, $220 billion) in assets, and 18 banks with 940 billion pounds in assets.