Saturday

28th May 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that Poland's recovery plan could be approved within a week. This could also help unblock Warsaw's reluctance to agree to the tax deal.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us