EU-27 approve new measures in response to the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories

EU launches eighth Russia sanctions package

AFP/FREDERICK FLORIN - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during a debate on "The State of the European Union".

Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporiyia are the four regions whose illegal annexation by Russia has led to the adoption of what is now the EU's eighth package of sanctions. Among the measures taken by the EU 27 is a cap on the price of Russian oil. If it does not offer a price equal to or lower than the fixed price, the transport of oil and its derivatives will not be allowed. The aim of this measure, in line with previous ones, is to reduce Russian revenues to finance the war with Ukraine.
 
However, this measure, precisely because it is one of the most important, caused some reluctance in some EU countries. Hungary was one of the countries that rejected it, in addition to the demands of Greece, Malta and Cyprus, which feared a possible loss of market share to their competitors. Negotiations with the latter three to satisfy their demands dragged on until the early hours of the morning, which Brussels defined as "a forceful response from the EU to the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories".

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The concern was palpable in the European institutions, and it was the High Representative, Josep Borrell, who put it into words when he stated that "we are facing a frightening scenario and we must not close our eyes, a nuclear power is backing down in the conventional scenario and threatening to use nuclear weapons". The former Spanish Foreign Minister also wanted to highlight the progress being made by Ukrainian troops on the battlefield, adding that "war can be won on the battlefield, but above all on the field of ideas".

The package of sanctions approved by the European Union, in addition to the oil price cap, also includes tougher limitations on imports of Russian products, as well as on European technology exports to Moscow. The Kremlin is threatening to stop selling crude oil "if market prices are not respected", and Brussels is beginning to consider measures with respect to gas, something that has not yet been implemented. Precisely the fear of the current energy crisis, which could worsen, is one of the reasons why cutting off as many Russian financing channels as possible is key.

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The ban on European citizens sitting on the boards of directors of Russian state-owned companies and personal sanctions against the leaders imposed by Moscow in the four illegally annexed regions are some of the measures included in this eighth package of measures. Among the personalities sanctioned by the EU, Alexandr Duguin, an ultra-nationalist philosopher whose ideology is defended by Vladimir Putin and who was used to justify the invasion of Ukraine, Alan Lushnikov, majority shareholder of the Russian arms manufacturer JSC Kalashnikov Concern, or some artists and musicians who have participated in acts of Russian propaganda, stand out.
 
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, was blunt about Moscow's latest moves: "We will never accept Putin's fake referenda or any kind of annexation in Ukraine. We are determined to continue to make the Kremlin pay". Estimates by von der Leyen's organisation put Putin's side's losses from the new sanctions at up to 7 billion euros. The intention is that this new package will further erode Russia's coffers and weaken its position in a war that Kiev is also winning on the battlefield.

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