Nations in the European Union approved an embargo on Russian coal and closed the bloc’s ports to Russian vessels as part of a fifth round of sanctions following allegations of Russian soldiers executing civilians in Ukraine.
The French EU Council presidency said in a series of tweets on April 8 that the latest “very substantial package” includes “sanctions against oligarchs, Russian propaganda actors, members of the security and military apparatus and entities in the industrial and technological sector linked to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
Assets of several Russian banks, including VTB, will be frozen. Coal imports are banned along with an embargo on arms and ammunition. There will also be a ban on exports to Russia including high-tech goods, advanced semiconductors, jet fuel, software, and high-end electronics, in total worth 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion).
Imports from Russia, worth 5.5 billion euros ($5.9 billion), are also restricted, including wood, cement, fertilizers, and expensive products like vodka and caviar.
Moreover, ships flying the Russian flag are barred from accessing European Union ports. Russian and Belarusian road transporters are also sanctioned.
The fifth round of sanctions were approved in a meeting of EU ambassadors April 7 and will likely be enacted April 8.
New coal contracts signed with Russia after April 8 will be in violation of the sanctions, and the import ban goes into effect the second week of August 2022. Russia is expected to lose about 8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) in yearly revenue under the coal ban.
“Latest sanctions follow the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation. The aim of our sanctions is to stop the reckless, inhuman and aggressive behavior of #Russia‘s troops and the illegal aggression against #Ukraine,” said the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, in a tweet.
Europe imports 45 percent of its coal from Russia. This is the first time sanctions have targeted the Russian energy sector—on which the continent is highly dependent—and it could pave the way for more energy sanctions.
“We have further coordinated robust sanctions. The new package includes a ban on coal imports. And ladies and gentlemen, I think that measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later,” said EU Council President Charles Michel during an April 6 debate in the European Parliament.
Hungary has reiterated that it would block any EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas, Euronews reported. The newly reelected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said the ban would be extremely detrimental to the country’s economy.
An additional 217 people were added to the EU blacklist as part of the latest sanctions, including businessmen, prominent military staff, and political leaders of the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine.
Altogether, approximately 900 people have been included in the blacklist, which prevents them from traveling in the EU and freezes their assets within the bloc.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.