The European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine on Thursday after the bloc’s 27 members backed measures that include a ban on gold imports, further restrictions on the country's biggest bank and tighter export controls on some high-technology goods.
European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the “reinforced, prolonged EU sanctions against the Kremlin” send “a strong signal to Moscow: we will keep the pressure high for as long as it takes.”
The EU has described the new round of sanctions as minor adjustments and intended to align its actions with commitments from global partners. Any ban on Russian gas imports, which are still a lifeline to many of the EU’s juggernaut industries, is not under consideration.
EU officials worked all week to tighten the bloc's extensive package of sanctions on Russia and looked at ways to add a ban on gold exports, hoping the measures might start to have a decisive impact on the war in Ukraine.
On Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was able to say, “We are effectively banning Russia’s most significant export after energy – Russian gold.”
The Group of Seven leading industrial nations committed to a gold ban last month, arguing that Russia has used its gold to back up its currency and circumvent the impact of earlier sanctions nations around the world imposed after the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The EU also took further action against Sberbank, which was already kicked off the SWIFT international banking messaging service. The bank will be added to the EU's sanctions list and have its assets frozen, making all transactions next to impossible.
The EU also tightened the noose on sanctioned individuals, often oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They now have to officially declare where they have assets in the EU so the holdings can be frozen. The EU said refusing to do so could lead to criminal charges and confiscation of the assets.
On Monday, the EU decided to boost military aid to Ukraine by 500 million euros.
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