On February 24 and 25, 2023, the United Kingdom and European Union each adopted additional sanctions against Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These new measures are summarized below.
On 25 February 2023 the EU issued its tenth package of sanctions against Russia. Under this new package:
Asset freezes have been imposed on three Russian banks, specifically Alfa-Bank, Rosbank and Tinkoff Bank, as well as the Russian National Wealth Fund and the Russian National Reinsurance Company.
- Asset freezes have been imposed against other individuals and entities including various Russian officials, military leaders and commanders of the Wagner Group, manufacturers and suppliers of military items to the Russian military, persons involved in the development of drones that are targeting Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure (including Iranian individuals), Russia’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles (Commercial Vehicles – GAZ Group), actors deemed by the EU to promote disinformation including Rossiya Segodnya, Patriot Media Group and journalists and executives in certain major TV channels, and two companies relating to maritime transportation (specifically Atomflot and Dubai-based SUN Ship Management (D) Ltd.) Asset freeze measures have also been imposed on several persons and entities under the Mali and human rights sanctions regimes, including parties linked to Russia’s Wagner Group.
- New licensing grounds have been introduced and certain existing licensing grounds have been amended, which allow Member States to authorize transactions with certain listed parties. These grounds include (inter alia) transactions with newly-listed Alfa-Bank, Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank and Commercial Vehicles – GAZ Group necessary for the termination by August 26, 2023, of contracts concluded before February 25, 2023, and certain transactions with previously listed entity National Settlement Depository relating to the transfer of securities by an EU entity that is currently or was previously controlled by VTB.
Frozen asset reporting obligations
- Effective from April 26, 2023, more detailed reporting obligations will apply with respect to funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held, or controlled by listed individuals and entities which have been frozen or were subject to any move, transfer or other dealing in the two weeks preceding the listing. Relevant information will have to be provided to the competent Member State authority within two weeks of acquiring the information, and Member State authorities are required to share the information with the European Commission.
- New reporting obligations will apply with respect to reserves and assets of the Central Bank of Russia that are held or controlled by EU financial institutions or to which the reporting party is a counterparty. Relevant information will need to be provided to the competent Member State authority and the European Commission within two weeks and be updated every three months.
- The list of items subject to export and related restrictions (including but not limited to goods and technology that could contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement or the development of its defense and security sector) has been extended. The list now includes rare-earths and compounds, polymers, electronics, specialized vehicles, machine parts, spare parts for trucks and jet engines, as well as goods for the construction sector which can be directed to Russia’s military, such as antennas or cranes. For some of these new items, there is an exception for the execution until March 27, 2023, of contracts concluded before February 26, 2023 (or ancillary contracts).
- 96 new entities have been added to the EU’s list of groups associated with Russia’s military and industrial complex, which are targeted by export restrictions. Specifically, the designation imposes a presumption of denial for license requests for exports of certain controlled goods. The new entries include several Iranian entities manufacturing military unmanned aerial vehicles.
- A new prohibition has been introduced on the transit via the territory of Russia of dual-use goods and technology and firearms (and their parts and ammunition) exported from the EU.
- Import and related restrictions have been introduced on new categories of goods including synthetic rubber, asphalt, bituminous mastics and certain carbon and other petroleum derivative products. The restrictions do not apply to the execution until May 27, 2023, of contracts concluded before February 26, 2023 (or ancillary contracts), and until June 30, 2024, with respect to an import quota of 752,475 metric tonnes for carbon products (falling under CN code 2803) and 562,973 metric tonnes for synthetic rubber (falling under CN code 4002).
- Rules have been introduced to clarify that customs authorities can release goods targeted by import bans which were physically located in the EU and had been presented to customs but not yet released for free circulation at the time the applicable ban entered into force (including, for example, goods placed under special customs procedures such as customs warehouses or inward processing facilities).
- The prohibition on broadcasting (or enabling or facilitating the broadcast) of content by Russian media entities has been extended to cover RT Arabic and Sputnik Arabic, and will come into force on April 10, 2023 provided that the Council, having examined the respective cases, decides to do so by implementing act.
Restrictions on Russian nationals or residents holding positions in governing bodies of EU critical infrastructures and entities
- A new prohibition has been introduced on allowing any Russian nationals or residents to hold any posts in the governing bodies of the owners or operators of (i) European critical infrastructures (ii) critical infrastructures identified or designated as such under Member State national law and (iii) critical entities. By way of example, this might include power grids, transport network and information and communication systems. The prohibition does not apply to Russian nationals or residents that are also nationals of an EU Member State, EEA country or Switzerland.
Prohibition on providing gas storage capacity
- A new prohibition has been introduced on providing gas storage capacity in the EU to Russian nationals, natural persons residing in Russia or legal persons or entities established in Russia (except for the part of liquefied natural gas facilities used for storage). There is an exception for the execution until March 27, 2023, of contracts concluded before February 26, 2023 (or ancillary contracts), and a new licensing ground allowing Member State authorities to authorize the provision of gas storage capacity necessary for ensuring critical energy supply within the EU.
Reporting obligations on flights between Russia and the EU
- A new obligation has been introduced on aircraft operators of non-scheduled flights between Russia and the EU, operated directly or via a third country, to notify all relevant information concerning the flight to their competent EU Member State authorities prior to their operation with minimum 48 hours’ prior notice.
New licensing grounds and exemptions
- Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Norway have been added to the list of partner countries. As a result, the exemption and licensing grounds for exports of certain controlled items and services intended for the exclusive use of entities owned, or solely or jointly controlled by a Member State or partner country entity, or the functioning of diplomatic and consular representations of the EU or partner countries in Russia, now extend to those four countries.
- A new licensing ground has been included allowing Member State authorities to authorize, until 31 December 2023, prohibited services (including accountancy, business and management consulting, IT consultancy, legal advisory, etc.) strictly necessary for divestment or wind-down of Russian business operations, provided the services are provided to and for the exclusive benefit of the entity resulting from the divestment.
- An extension has been introduced to the deadline for the exemption from the prohibition to enter into any transactions with targeted Russian state-owned entities if the transaction is strictly necessary for the wind-down of a joint venture or similar legal arrangement, as well as for the licensing ground for transactions which are necessary for the divestment and withdrawal by those Russian state-owned entities from EU companies.
- A new exemption has been introduced with respect to prohibited technical assistance and transactions with targeted Russian state-owned entities for the provision of pilot services to vessels in innocent passage as defined by international law that are necessary for reasons of maritime safety.
- The UK imposed 92 new designations on individuals and entities, including on four Russian banks (including MTS Bank, Bank Saint Petersburg, Bank Zenit and Uralsib), as well as a large number of executives of Rosatom, Rostec, Gazprom and Aeroflot.
- The UK government also announced (but has not yet adopted):
- A new export ban on every item Russia has been found using on the battlefield to date, including aircraft parts, radio equipment, and electronic components that can be used by the Russian military industrial complex, including in the production of UAVs.
- An extension of the current restrictions with respect to Crimea and non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk to also cover the Russian controlled areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. The restrictions include a broad ban on imports of goods originating from the targeted areas as well as export restrictions targeting a wide range of goods, services and investments.