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Saturday, September 13, 2014

EU and USA impose new sanctions against Russia amid continuous aggression in Eastern Ukraine

EU and USA impose new sanctions against Russis
(Image: Ria)
Despite the agreement about the ceasefire in Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, reached between Ukraine, Russia and Russian backed terrorists during the talks in Minsk, Belarus, Western countries decided to impose the new packages of sanctions against Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on Wednesday, 10 September, that EU want political and diplomatic solution in Eastern Ukraine and that the current conflict cannot be resolved militarily, that’s why EU took a decision to increase its pressure on Russia imposing new harsher and wider economic and political sanctions against Russian officials and key sectors of Russian economy.

Thus, President of European Council Herman van Rompuy stated on Wednesday, 10 September, that the new package of sanctions against Russia were being discussed actively since Monday and that the time for their implementation has finally come despite the ceasefire. Russia must withdraw its troops and weapons from Ukrainian territory and stop supporting and supplying the terrorists in Donbas in order to meet the peaceful plan of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

It’s worth mentioning though that Russian and Ukrainian presidents have reportedly reached an agreement regarding the implementation of the peaceful plan and withdrawal of the forces from the Donbas region. It was also reported earlier by German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Mr. Poroshenko declared earlier this week that nearly 70% of Russian troops have been withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, and despite the fact that the current ceasefire is really fragile, it is being kept till now. But the process of withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and the borders with Ukraine has currently stopped, stated Ukrainian President. Mr. Poroshenko has even initiated an urgent meeting of the National Defense and Security Council on Friday, 12 September, in order to discuss the current situation and to take a decision regarding the further actions.

Thus, Western countries have implemented the new sanctions against Russia due to the Russian unwillingness to commit to the international law and to fulfill its obligations according to the international treaties and also to the Minsk accords. The new sanctions were imposed by the 28 EU countries and by US and came into effect at the same day, on Friday, 12 September.

Both sanctions packages, the EU one and the US one, affected Russian financial, military and defense and energy sectors, though European sanctions didn’t affect Russian Gazprom, responsible for gas supplies to Europe and Ukraine as well, while US sanctions appeared to be harsher and included Gazprom as well.

The new EU sanctions targeted Russian finance market, imposing serious restrictions and prohibitions on the five biggest banks of Russia: Sberbank, VTB, Vneshexpobank, Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank. EU banks and financial institutions will not invest in the Russian banks anymore, they won’t also credit Russian banks and financial companies and won’t cooperate on the market of the valuable papers. The sanctions affected also numerous companies and concerns of the defense and military sector including prohibition of cooperation and supplies of technologies etc. Russian oil sector appeared to be affected by the new EU sanctions as well. In addition to that EU added other 24 persons to its black list, freezing their financial assets in Europe and imposing travel bans on them. The list include many Russian politicians and officials, many of whom are from the closest circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and also the representatives of the so called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

US State Department in its turn has declared about imposition of their own sanctions against Russia due to its continuous aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The biggest banks of Russian Federation including Sberbank, Gazprombank, VTB, Bank of Moscow, Rosselkhozbank, Vneshexpobank and financial company Novatek were targeted by the new US sanctions. Energy supply companies also faced restrictions and prohibitions. Among those affected are Gazprom, Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz, Transneft (Transoil), Rosneft and others. Defense and military companies and concerns, such as Almaz Antey and many others, also faced the new sanctions, including prohibition of cooperation, export of technical support and materials, equipment and services and prohibition of investment in and cooperation with the Russian oil and defense companies. Personal sanctions including travel bans and freezing the financial assets were also imposed against many Russian officials in the frameworks of the new package of sanctions.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in his turn has signed a decree about imposing Ukrainian sanctions against Russia as well. The list of the personalities and companies to be affected by the Ukrainian sanctions is expected to be discussed by Ukrainian National Defense and Security Council and announced in the nearest future.
Russia in its turn has threatened the world and Ukraine in particular with the counter-sanctions, including gas supplies reducing and closure of the air space what could have very negative impact of the European and Ukrainian airline companies. In addition to that Russia warns Ukraine of the possible consequences and new sanctions to be imposed against Ukraine since the 1st November due to Ukrainian cooperation and Association with EU.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Parliament will be presented the text of the Association Agreement with EU on Monday, 15 September, and it is expected to be voted for and ratified on Tuesday, 16 September. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared earlier that the process of ratifying of the Association Agreement will be held parallel with the EU and will come into effect on the 1st November. Though later on Friday, 12 September, it was stated that the implementation of the Association Agreement will be delayed till the 31 December 2015, according to the statement of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. He claimed that this decision was taken in order to create better conditions for Ukrainian economy to implement the terms of the Agreement and to grant Ukraine more flexible conditions as well. The delay of the implementation of the free trade zone between Ukraine and EU states though will not affect the regime of the autonomous trade measures and conditions set for Ukraine.