BRUSSELS (AP) — Purebred horses, truffles, a soccer club owner and head of a media company.
They were among the targets of new European Union sanctions against Russia on Tuesday that were aimed at stripping the oligarchs of their love of luxury and depriving the country of lucrative steel exports.
The 27-nation bloc sought to avoid sanctions that would undermine its Russian energy supply, but jumped in with measures worth billions while stifling its ability to work in global markets by banning EU rating agencies from work with Russian clients.
“These new sanctions will further cut off Russia and drain its resources to fund this barbaric war. It can therefore be said that Russia has become the most sanctioned nation in the world, which is indeed a very dubious honor,” said European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis.
Maintaining Moscow’s punishment for its invasion of neighboring Ukraine was done in close consultation with Western allies, from the UK to the US.
Together, they agreed to deny Russia most favored nation status, which will cost its companies privileged status in Western economies. Britain on Tuesday announced sanctions against 350 people and entities and also promised to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.
The European Union has already hit about 600 Russians in the four sanctions rounds, including 15 individuals and nine entities in the fourth sanctions package. It has affected an oligarch already targeted by Britain – Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, who has been hit with an assets freeze and travel ban.
The EU’s official journal said Abramovich “had privileged access to the (Russian) president and had a very good relationship with him. This connection with the Russian ruler helped him maintain his considerable wealth.
Tuesday’s list of 15 people also included Konstantin Lvovich Ernst, the chief executive of Russian state broadcaster Channel One, which the EU says is used by Russian President Vladimir Putin for propaganda purposes.
It didn’t work out on Monday, when Channel One employee Marina Ovsyannikova walked into the studio during Monday’s evening news with a poster saying “no war” and “Russians against war”.
The EU announcements were in line with what leaders announced at the Versailles summit last Friday – that a set of tough sanctions would be forthcoming if Russia went ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.
And the EU insisted that the measures had already had their impact.
“We see that the ruble has crashed. Listing on the Moscow Stock Exchange remains suspended. Russia’s credit rating was downgraded to junk status at about default levels. Many international companies are leaving the country,” Dombrovskis said.
The import ban on steel products would represent some 3.3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in lost exports for Russia, with the EU being its No. 1 market.
This time, special attention is paid to the elite by targeting luxury products. It ranged from truffles, champagne, cigars and perfumes to fine wines, rare wristwatches, pearls and diamonds.
“We are trying to target wealthy elite oligarchs,” said an EU official involved in implementing the sanctions on the usual condition of anonymity.
Since the start of the war last month, the EU has adopted tough measures targeting Putin, the Russian financial system and its demanding oligarchs. Last week, the bloc countries agreed to impose new sanctions on 160 people and added new restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio communication technology.
They also decided to exclude three Belarusian banks from SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.
Efforts to agree on an oil boycott against Russia are complicated because some EU countries, including Germany and Italy, are much more dependent on Russian energy than others. Showing the range within the EU, Poland gets 67% of its oil from Russia while Ireland only gets 5%.
Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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