EU’s Eighth Sanctions Package on Russia Taking Shape

The European Union’s eights sanctions package against Russia is taking shape with the bloc looking at an oil price cap, tighter curbs on high-tech exports and more sanctions against individuals, in response to Putin’s nuclear rhetoric on Wednesday, announcement of a partial mobilization and support for plans to effectively annex parts of eastern Ukraine. EU foreign ministers agreed on an ad hoc meeting to discuss new sanctions, which is expected to include economic and individual measures.

European Commission President von der Leyen said new sanctions would include additional export controls on civilian technology. The EU diplomats said new sanctions would centre around an oil price cap to match that agreed by the G7. More individual listings are also expected.  EU’s blacklist to date includes 108 entities and 1,206 individuals.

Some countries want to target relatives and close aides of those already sanctioned over circumventing current measures.

EU countries have also yet to agree to recognize such bypassing of sanctions as a criminal offense inside the bloc.

One of the issues on the agenda will be what to do with Russians that flee conscription. The three Baltic nations, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, said they would not offer refuge. Finland and Poland have also been restricting Russian arrivals but the EU has not imposed a blanket travel ban so far.

The impact of a possible oil price cap is still uncertain as the EU has already decided to put an oil embargo that will take effect by the end of the year, albeit with exemptions.

Further curbs on luxury goods exports to Russia are also on the table, while the bloc’s Russia hawks sought a ban on Russian diamonds and confiscation of Russian assets in Europe.

Others, however, warned the latter was unlikely to get the necessary unanimous backing of all EU countries.

Still, the bloc is far from unified as Germany, Europe’s biggest economy , has so far been reluctant to impose tougher economic restrictions. Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, who is known to have close ties with Putin, said on Thursday all the sanctions should be scrapped.

The European Commission is expected to present next week a written proposal, and the 27 EU national leaders might approve it when they meet in Prague on Oct.6-7.

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