19th Mar 2018

EU to extend sanctions on Putin 'cronies'

  • Putin spars with Russian judo team in Sochi in January - Rotenberg, on the EU list, is also a Putin judo partner (Photo:

EU states have decided to extend the duration of blacklists of Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for the Ukraine conflict or for plundering Ukraine’s treasury.

Ambassadors agreed in a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (2 March) that visa bans and asset freezes on 149 people and 37 entities deemed responsible for violating Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” would stay in force for six more months.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Orban in Moscow: said Russia is his 'partner' (Photo:

Asset freezes on 16 people accused of “misappropriation” of Ukrainian state funds would stay in place for another year.

The lists would be tweaked to take note of minor developments, the envoys said.

Three people on the “territorial integrity” list have died since the last time the EU updated the file, including a Russian spy chief Igor Sergun.

EU sources say former Ukrainian health minister Raisa Bohatyriova has returned stolen money, so will be removed from the “misappropriation” register.

But Wednesday’s decision means all the big names are still on Europe's blacklist.

The roll-call includes Russian deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, senior Kremlin aides Sergey Glazyev and Vladislav Surkov, and Kremlin security chiefs Mikhail Fradkov, Aleksandr Bortnikov, Boris Gryzlov and Sergei Beseda.

Also on the list are senior Russian MPs such as Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and firebrand nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, as well as a TV anchorman Dmitry Kiselyov who was listed for propaganda activities.

Personal friends and what EU officials call the oligarch “cronies” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin also remain subject to sanctions. They include Arkady Rotenberg, Konstantin Malofeev, Yuriy Kovalchuk and Nikolay Shamalov.

On the Ukrainian side, former president Viktor Yanukovych and former PM Mykola Azarov are both subject to sanctions.

EU Council lawyers are currently drafting the legal paperwork for the extensions. The formal decision is to be taken without further discussion by EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels on 10 March.

The EU already decided in January to extend the duration of the more painful economic sanctions on Russia until late July.

’Remarkable unity’

An EU contact said just one out of the 28 EU states voiced doubts on the extension in Wednesday’s talks. But the source declined to name the state.

“The sanctions were extended because nothing has changed in the situation on the ground,” the source said. “What we saw in the [ambassadors’] meeting was quite a remarkable show of unity.”

Several of the big names - including Rotenberg, Yanukovych, and Azarov - are pursuing legal cases against the EU in the courts in Luxembourg.

Five of them, including Azarov, won a legal challenge in January against their 2014 listing on grounds of lack of evidence. But they are still designated because each subsequent EU decision, such as a 2015 update of the list, is regarded as a separate legal act.

“The court cases were taken into account in the talks. But they didn’t change anything,” the EU source said.

Political meaning

Russia has admitted to using special forces in Crimea and in east Ukraine. But it has also denied any large-scale military intervention, despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

When France and Germany, on behalf of the EU, negotiated the so-called Minsk and Minsk 2 ceasefire accords they bowed to Russia’s claims by making reference to “foreign” instead of Russian forces on Ukrainian territory.

But the re-listing of people like Surkov and Bortnikov indicates that no one really believes Putin’s claims.

The re-listing of Yanukovych and Azarov also indicates that recent corruption scandals in Kiev have not undermined EU resolve.

Wednesday’s decision does come at a time when some in the EU are calling for a detente with Russia despite ongoing Ukraine hostilities, however.

When Hungarian PM Viktor Orban met Putin in Moscow on 17 February he said: “This year, by the middle of the year, there will be no easy way to prolong sanctions. More and more countries share this opinion.”

An EU source noted that Putin had also invited European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to a business forum in St Petersburg in June.

“It’s not yet decided if he will go,” the source said.

Russia 'weaponising' refugees against EU

Russia is “weaponising migration” as part of a broader campaign to extend its influence in Europe, Nato’s military chief has said, echoing German and Turkish concern.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  2. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  4. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  5. EUobserverNow Hiring! Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience
  6. EUobserverNow Hiring! Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience
  7. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  10. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections
  12. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction