Thursday

24th Aug 2017

EU to uphold ban on Putin's 'cronies'

  • The oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, one of the EU-blacklisted people, is Putin's long term judo partner (Photo: kremlin.ru)

EU states are expected, next week, to extend for six months their blacklist of Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for the war in Ukraine.

The decision is to be taken at a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday (7 September) and ratified by EU capitals in writing a few days afterward.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • Crimean coast: Dozens of EU-lined vessels broke the embargo, OCCRP said (Photo: Evgeni Zotov)

The list, which imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on 149 people and an asset freeze on 37 entities, is to expire on 15 September unless it is rolled over.

It is part of wider measures that also include economic sanctions and a ban on doing business with Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine two years ago.

The economic sanctions, which are the most painful, expire in January.

The Crimea sanctions were already extended earlier this year until June 2017.

A growing number of EU states, including the EU presidency, Slovakia, say the bloc should mend fences with Russia.

EU foreign ministers will, at an informal meeting in Bratislava on Friday, discuss the partial ceasefire in Ukraine and “the way forward” on the crisis.

Diplomatic sources said that if anybody objected to the blacklist rollover, they might mention it at the event.

But they said this was unlikely, because EU leaders plan to discuss Russia relations at a summit in October and any change to the sanctions regime is likely to be made at a later stage.

No brainer

“The blacklist was put in place due to attacks on Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. The conditions on the ground haven’t changed, so I don’t think there’s any suspense [on the rollover]”, one EU source said.

A second EU source said Russia’s surge of troops into Crimea in early August “should make the rollover even easier”.

Russia did it after saying that Ukraine had conducted special operations inside the annexed territory, but the EU Council chief, Donald Tusk, for one, later said that the “Russian version of events [was] unreliable”.

A third source, from a large EU state, told EUobserver: “I don’t see any reason not to extend the [visa ban] list. It has already been done several times”.

The EU blacklist names Russian security chiefs, Kremlin aides, and senior politicians, such as deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who championed the invasion of Ukraine.

It also names a handful of oligarchs whom EU diplomats refer to as Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s “cronies”, such as Arkady Rotenberg, with whom he likes to spar in judo.

Sanctions busters

For its part, the US treasury on Thursday (1 September) designated a further 37 Russian and Ukrainian entities in what it said is part of “ongoing efforts to counter attempts to circumvent sanctions on Russia”.

Its decision casts a spotlight on European sanctions compliance.

But according to a new report by the OCCRP, a club of investigative journalists from eastern Europe, EU states’ commercial shipping is flouting the Crimea business ban.

“Over the past two years, 24 vessels bearing EU countries’ flags, 43 vessels registered in the EU, and 22 vessels owned by EU beneficiaries have entered Crimea”, the report said.

Its study named Germany, Greece, and Romania among the culprits.

The German embassy in Ukraine reacted with alarm to the findings, but “the reaction of other European embassies to the violations was muted, or, in some cases, non-existent”, the OCCRP said.

Slovakia's Fico goes to Russia

The Slovak prime minister, whose country currently chairs the EU council, will meet the Russian leader ahead of upcoming EU talks on Russia policy.

EU extends Russia blacklist by six months

Oligarchs, Kremlin aides, and security chiefs remain banned from EU until at least March next year, but Brexit could help Russia to get off the hook on economic sanctions.

EU trying to relaunch Ukraine peace process

Foreign ministers said the EU is ready to help with elections in Eastern Ukraine, while France and Germany are trying to bring back Russia to the negotiating table.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  2. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  3. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  4. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  5. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  6. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  7. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  8. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference