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EU has announced the 12th package of sanctions against Russia

Officially adopted on December 18, 2023, the new list of economic and individual restrictive measures targets high-value sectors of the Russian economy and makes it more difficult to circumvent previous EU sanctions.

“With this 12th package, we are putting forward a robust set of new listings and economic measures which will further weaken Russia’s war machine. Our message is clear, as I already stated when I chaired the informal Foreign Affairs Council in Kyiv: we remain steadfast in our commitment to Ukraine and will continue to support its fight for freedom and sovereignty,” stated Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Ukrainian and European Union flags hang together on the exterior of the building
at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Photo: Virginia Mayo / AP

Yuliia Svyrydenko, Minister of Economy of Ukraine, also emphasized the significance of the new sanctions package. She underlined that the “limiting of the aggressor country’s opportunities to obtain goods and technologies used for military purposes, as well as decreasing Russia’s economic ability to wage war” are of paramount importance. 

In particular, the EU has prohibited the direct or indirect import, purchase, or transfer of diamonds from Russia. A direct ban applies to non-industrial natural and synthetic diamonds, as well as diamond jewelry, beginning on January 1, 2024. An indirect import ban of Russian diamonds when processed (i.e. cut and/or polished) in third countries, including jewelry incorporating diamonds originating in Russia, will be phased in progressively as of March 1, 2024, and be completed by September 1, 2024.

Furthermore, the European Council has added 61 more individuals and 86 entities to the sanctioned list. They will be subjected to tighter export restrictions concerning dual-use goods and technologies, as well as goods and technology that might contribute to the technological development of Russia’s military sector. 

The list of restricted items that could contribute to the technological enhancement of Russia’s defense and security sector was also expanded. From now on, it includes chemicals, lithium batteries, thermostats, DC motors and servomotors for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), machine tools, and machinery parts. The EU introduced further restrictions on imports of some other goods such as pig iron and spiegeleisen, copper wires, aluminum wires, foil, tubes, and pipes for a total value of €2,2 billion per year. A new import ban on liquefied propane (LPG) with a 12-month transitional period was imposed.

In addition, the transit ban will be extended to all battlefield goods. These restrictions are currently applied to dual-use goods and technologies exported from the EU to third countries via the territory of Russia. The prohibition on the provision of services will also be expanded, including the services of software for the management of enterprises and software for industrial design and manufacture.

Lastly, the EU is imposing notification requirements for transferring funds outside the EU. It applies to any entity established in the EU owned or controlled by an entity based in Russia, or by a Russian national or natural person residing in Russia.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP via Getty Images

Moreover, the 12th package of sanctions against Russia has introduced tighter compliance rules to support the implementation of the oil price cap and clamp down on circumvention. In particular, the strengthened information-sharing mechanism will help identify vessels and entities transporting Russian crude oil and petroleum products.

The European Council has also implemented new notification rules for selling tankers to any third country. Such regulations can be applied to second-hand carriers that could be used to evade the import ban on Russian crude or petroleum products and the G7 Price Cap.

“Grateful to the EU for today’s 12th sanctions package on Russia. Timely tightening of sectoral sanctions, including a phased ban on Russian diamonds, metallurgy, and other extended prohibitions. Defunding the Russian war machine is a sure way to peace and security in Europe,” commented Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Address by the President of Ukraine to the participants of the European Council meeting.
December 14, 2023.
Photo: Presidential Office of Ukraine

On December 14-15, 2023, the European Council meeting was held in Brussels. As a result of the summit, several important decisions concerning Ukraine were agreed on. Among them are opening accession negotiations with Ukraine, establishing a €50 billion Ukraine Facility, as well as a preliminary agreement of the new package of sanctions against Russia. Further work on the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the EU Military Assistance Mission to meet Ukraine’s urgent military and defense needs were also among the defined priorities.