EU close to agreement on 10th sanctions package against Russia

By Jan Strupczewski and Andrew Gray

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is on the verge of a 10th package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and EU governments hope to reach an agreement on Wednesday as they resolve differences over a ban on Russian rubber and diamond imports can, EU diplomats said.

Among those the bloc wants to target are Russians allegedly involved in the illegal deportation of around 6,000 Ukrainian children.

The €11 billion ($11.7 billion) package is also likely to include a first-ever ban on all exports to seven Iranian companies believed to be manufacturing items used by Russia in the war.

“Today we discussed the 10th package of sanctions against Russia,” Polish Ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sados said after talks between the ambassadors of the 27 EU governments in Brussels.

“We will resume the discussion tomorrow afternoon in the hope that we can find common ground,” he said.

In time for the anniversary of the invasion on February 24, the EU also wants to have the package ready against those accused of deporting children.

“At least 34 Russian institutions are involved in the systematic theft of Ukrainian children, including the Russian Children’s Ombudsman,” Sados said.

The UN refugee agency said last month Russia is giving the children Russian passports and putting them up for adoption.

A US-backed report this month says Russia has been holding at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in facilities in Russian-controlled Crimea and Russia that appear to have a primary purpose of political re-education. The Russian embassy in Washington said Russia took in children who had to flee Ukraine.

In response to UNHCR, Russia’s foreign ministry accused its boss of remaining silent when children died as a result of Ukrainian shelling in the Donbass region after pro-Moscow separatists declared independence in 2014.


Sados said there was some progress in imposing an embargo on imports of Russian diamonds, either polished or rough, as Belgium eased its opposition, although it would harm Europe’s largest diamond trading center in Antwerp.

But he and other diplomats said diamonds are unlikely to be part of that package as such a measure would still need to be coordinated with the G7 countries, whose leaders are likely to mention the issue in a statement on Friday.

The package also would not include sanctions on Russia’s nuclear power sector and adding Rosatom to the sanctions list, diplomats said, because several European countries, including France, are buying uranium from Russia for their reactors.

But the EU is close to a compromise on banning Russian synthetic rubber, diplomats said, although Germany and Italy opposed a full embargo, which Poland and the Baltic countries are calling for. The solution could be a quota, and talks are focused on how much can be allowed, diplomats said.

The EU will also ban the sale to Russia of all dual-use and electronic components used in Russian armed systems such as drones, missiles and helicopters – basically anything found in Russian weapons on Ukrainian battlefields.

The EU is also likely to cut other Russian banks, including private Alfa Bank, online bank Tinkoff and commercial lender Rosbank [ROSB.MM] from the global messaging system SWIFT.

The EU is likely to ban Russia Today’s Arabic service from its territory and ban the sale to Russia of electronic circuits and components, thermal imaging cameras, radios and heavy vehicles, as well as steel and aluminum for construction and machinery for industrial and construction use.

($1 = 0.9398 euros)

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alison Williams)


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