EU reaches deal on new Russia sanctions to further pressure Moscow

The aim is to make it harder for Russia to bypass existing sanctions, which have targeted its banks, trade, technology imports, and individual allies of President Vladimir Putin.

European Union ambassadors agreed in principle on a new round of sanctions aimed at increasing economic pressure on Russia over its war against Ukraine, the latest in a series of international penalties meant to undermine Moscow’s military efforts.

The sanctions package, the 14th imposed by the EU since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, was approved after more than a month of negotiations among the 27 member states. Details were not immediately released, but officials said it was designed to close loopholes and maximize the impact of previous measures.

According to reports, the measures will include a ban on transhipment of Russian liquefied natural gas through European ports and holding EU operators liable for any sanctions violations by subsidiaries or partners in third countries, among other steps.

The aim is to make it harder for Russia to bypass existing sanctions, which have targeted its banks, trade, technology imports, and individual allies of President Vladimir Putin. The sanctions are meant to degrade Moscow’s ability to fund and supply its military.

Despite Brussels’ goal of eliminating Russian fossil fuel imports by 2027, several EU nations remain heavily reliant on Russian gas supplies. Reports showed EU imports of Russian liquefied natural gas reached record levels in 2022.

The new sanctions came after a protracted debate as some countries like Germany resisted efforts to restrict Russian gas further, according to sources. Berlin and others have raised concerns that sanctions risk backfiring by driving up energy costs and inflation.

Beyond economic measures, the EU is also expected to soon place Russia’s Wagner private military contractor on its terrorism list following a short-lived mutiny by the mercenary group against Moscow’s military leadership.

The latest package is designed to build on 13 previous sanction rounds imposed by the EU over the past 16 months that have tried to degrade Russia’s economic capacity to wage war in Ukraine.