“EU sanctions are a slow-acting poison like the one made from arsenic. They take time to produce their effects, but they do and it is irreversible.” With these words, the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, has summarized the nine packages of measures that are in force and the tenth that has been presented today to hit the Russian economy and its political, military, judicial leaders and business as the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine approaches.

The Russian economy has not collapsed, as expected in Brussels and the continental capitals, but it has felt, is feeling and will continue to feel the effects of the sanctions. Revenues from hydrocarbon sales were exceptional in 2022, but Europe has accelerated its decoupling from Putin’s oil and gas, revenue from that concept has nearly halved in January this year and the public deficit “is exploding “because” it is fourteen times higher in January 2023 and Russia’s trade balance “is at its average all-time low since 2007,” Borrell stressed. There is no collapse, but the poison is taking effect.

This Wednesday, the Spaniard and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have presented their proposal for the 10th package, which must be discussed and approved by the governments of the 27 member states, and which will not be easy, as has seen. Because of the constant blockade of Hungary, Moscow’s most faithful ally within the EU, but also because there are many nuances, reservations and complicated points.

The 10th round of sanctions sees more export bans worth more than 11 billion euros “to deprive the Russian economy of critical technology and industrial goods”, essential electronics, specialized vehicles, machinery parts, truck parts and engines, as well as goods for the construction sector that can be directed to the Russian military, such as antennas or cranes.

The EU wants to dry out the components of everything used on the battlefield, from weapons, vehicles and drones to communications. He wants to keep Russian citizens away from the boards of companies that control critical infrastructure in the Union or that store or facilitate the storage of gas. Names of those responsible for the propaganda and disinformation campaigns, judicial authorities and financial entities that had hitherto been spared, such as Alfa Bank, Rosbank and Tinkoff, are added.

Similarly, Brussels wants to identify each ruble that is deposited (and now frozen) in the accounts of European financial institutions, starting with those of its Central Bank, with a view to possible use to generate benefits that can finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. Community law allows these assets to be seized while the sanctions are active, but not confiscated, so an alternative is to temporarily invest those liquid assets and use the income from their performance.

Ukraine also calls for immediate punishment against the Russian nuclear sector and, in particular, against Rosatom, the state monopoly that controls civilian nuclear power and the country’s weapons arsenal. This was requested by Volodimir Zelenski in person to the continental leaders last week in Brussels.

Rosatom is the one that is exploiting the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in eastern Ukraine, despite the risk generated by the fighting in the area. But for now the EU has chosen not to go down that path. He believes that there is not enough consensus or that stopping collaboration on such a sensitive matter with Moscow is risky.

Von der Leyen has explained that if the proposal goes ahead, the sanctions will further restrict the export of dual-use goods and advanced technology goods. “We propose controls on 47 new electronic components that can be used in Russian weapons systems, including drones, missiles, helicopters. And on specific rare mineral materials and thermal cameras. With this, we have banned all technological products found in the battlefield and we’ll make sure they don’t find other ways to get there. That’s why, for the first time, we’re adding third-country entities to Russia’s dual-use sanctions, starting with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” which has been providing Russia with Shahed drones to attack civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

“Today we target the banking sector and I will present to the Council a list of proposals to sanction nearly 100 additional individuals and entities for their role in undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This includes those responsible for military activities, political decisions, propaganda and disinformation. We are targeting those involved in inhumane abductions, deportations and forced adoptions of Ukrainian children to Russia and also those who enable the looting of Ukrainian resources. We will again hit hard at the Russian military and defense sector, organizations related to them, [and] those responsible for the development of drones that target civilians and civil infrastructure,” Borrell said. “I also propose that our sanctions be extended to the delegated authorities and self-proclaimed judges in the four illegally annexed Ukrainian regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia who are providing false legitimacy to the Russian rulers and their illegal decisions,” the president added. Spanish.

Now it is up to the ambassadors to study the lists, analyze the details and leave the decision to the foreign ministers, ideally as soon as possible, at their next meeting in a few days if possible.

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