EU imposes sanctions on top Russian officials, banks, trade

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Saturday agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting more officials and organizations accused of supporting the war, spreading propaganda or supplying drones, as well as restricting trade in products that can be used by the armed forces.

The Swedish presidency of the EU said the sanctions “are aimed at military and political decision-makers, companies that support or work in the Russian military industry, and commanders of the Wagner Group. Transactions with some of Russia’s largest banks are also prohibited.”

Three other Russian banks and seven Iranian “entities” – companies, agencies, political parties or other organizations – that manufacture military drones, which the EU suspects were used by Russia during the war, were subject to asset freezes.

The new measures, proposed by the EU’s executive three weeks ago, were adopted only after much internal wrangling over their exact composition, and were made public a day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the intended target date.

The delay, which was small but symbolically important, is further evidence of how difficult it has become for the bloc of 27 countries to identify new targets for restrictive measures acceptable to all member states.

The sanctions are designed to undermine Russia’s economy and drain funds for its war effort, but they are also increasingly hurting European economies already hit by high inflation and energy prices and still suffering from the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic.

Before this latest set of measures, the EU had already targeted nearly 1,400 Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, ministers, lawmakers and oligarchs deemed loyal to the Kremlin, as well as officers deemed responsible for war crimes or attacking civilian infrastructure .

The bloc also froze the assets of more than 170 organizations, ranging from political parties and paramilitary groups to banks, private companies and media outlets accused of spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Russia’s energy sector was also affected – oil and coal in particular – and the bloc was quickly weaned off its dependence on Russian natural gas through its own actions and political decisions, coupled with retaliatory measures from Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the new package in his nightly address on Saturday.

“Sanctions will be introduced so that nothing remains of the potential of Russian aggression,” he said.

“There are new sanctions steps in the 10th package, powerful ones, against the defense industry and the financial sector of the terrorist state and against the propagandists who have drowned Russian society in lies and are trying to spread their lies all over the world,” said Zelenskyy. said.

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