In response to the Russian Federation's activities targeting Ukraine and the recognition of Luhansk/Donetsk as independent regions, EU foreign ministers have authorized three packages of sanctions. The five packages include several regulations limiting Russia's access to the capital market. Moreover, they include financial sanctions against certain individuals and companies as well as export bans. Violations are subject to severe penalties.
In the following, we provide a general overview of the sanctions regime and explain what companies need to do now.
I. NEW SANCTIONS
First package of Sanctions
1. Restrictions of the capital market (Regulation (EU) 2022/262)
EU Official Journal Nr. L 42I, 02-23-2022, P. 74-76: Regulation(EU) 2022/262
- Trading of securities and money market instruments issued after March 9, 2022 by Russia and its government, the Central Bank of Russia or any legal person, entity or body acting on behalf of or under the direction of the Central Bank of Russia, is prohibited. The prohibition includes securities services or auxiliary services in connection with the issuance of these securities.
- Any participation in lending or borrowing money to legal persons, entities, or bodies referred above after February 23, 2022, is forbidden.
2. Financial sanctions against natural persons and companies (Regulation (EU) 2022/260, 2022/261 and extended by the following packages of sanctions)
EU Official Journal Nr. L 42I, 02-23-2022, P. 15-73: Regulation (EU) 2022/260; EU Official Journal Nr. L 42I, 02-23-2022, P. 3-14: Regulation (EU) 2022/261; EU Official Journal Nr. L 53, 02-25-2022, S. 1-44: Regulation (EU) 2022/332; EU Official Journal Nr. L 58, 02-28-2022, P.1-18: Regulation (EU) 2022/336; EU Official Journal Nr. L 66, 03-02-2022, P. 1-13: Regulation (EU) 2022/353; EU Official Journal Nr. L 80, 09-03-2022, P. 1-30: Regulation (EU) 2022/396; EU Official Journal Nr. L 84, 03-11-2022, P. 2-17: Regulation (EU) 2022/408; EU Official Journal Nr. L 87I, 03-13-2022, P.1-12: Regulation (EU) 2022/427
- The approximately 350 members of the Russian Parliament who voted in favor of the Russian recognition of Luhansk/Donetsk as sovereign states are now included in Regulation (EU) 269/2014. Thereby, all of their funds and economic resources are frozen.
- It is prohibited to provide funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly, to the listed persons. A prohibited provision of funds or economic resources may also be given if the recipients or end-users are not themselves listed, but are controlled by an entity listed in Annex I.
- The sanctions list of Regulation (EU) 269/2014 includes a total number of about 950 individuals and organizations. Among them are the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Shoigu, the Minister of Defense Grigorenko the Russian state bank "Promsvyazbank" and Roman Abramovitsch.
3. Regional sanctions concerning Luhansk/Donetsk (Regulation (EU) 2022/263)
EU Official Journal Nr. L 42I, 02-23-2022, P. 77-94: Regulation EU 2022/263
- Trade between the EU and Luhansk/Donetsk will be substantially limited, following the example of the trade sanctions against Crimea/Sevastopol (see 2).
- Import of goods originating in the specified territories, as well as the direct or indirect provision of financing in connection with import, is prohibited. This does not apply to old contracts (including contracts concluded before February 23, 2022) and to goods for which Ukrainian authorities have verified the origin of production in accordance with EU law requirements.
- Ban on investment: The acquisition or increase of interest in the ownership of real estate as well as the establishment of joint ventures or the associated provision of investment services in Luhansk/Donetsk is prohibited.
- Ban on export of goods and technologies specified in Annex II, particularly those relating to key sectors such as transport, energy and communication.
Second package of Sanctions
On February 24, the EU foreign ministers decided to impose additional sanctions (Regulation (EU) 2022/328).
- Russian banks are to be banned from borrowing and lending money in the EU in the future.
- Shares in Russian state-owned companies may no longer be traded.
- The acceptance of deposits from Russian citizens or residents exceeding certain values and the sale of securities denominated in euro to Russian customers is prohibited.
- The supply of spare parts and other technology to the Russian transport sectors will be cut off.
- There are additional export restrictions on dual-use goods and technologies.
- The same applies to goods and technologies that could help improve Russia's defense and security sector.
- Sale, supply and export of certain goods and technologies for oil refining is prohibited.
- Restrictions on visa policy: Entry opportunities for Russian diplomats and businessmen will be restricted (EU Official Journal Nr. L 54, 02-25-2022, P.1-3: Council Decision (EU) 2022/333).
- Irrespective of the authorized sanctions by the EU, the German government has halted the authorization process for the "Nord Stream 2" pipeline project.
Third package of Sanctions
In response to continued attacks by Russian forces in Ukraine, the United States, France, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, the EU Commission and Germany agreed on further financial sanctions against Russia on February 26, 2022.
Exclusion of certain banks from "Swift"
The following Russian banks are excluded from the international payment service system "Swift": Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), VTB Bank. These institutions shall be excluded from international financial flows and their global operations shall be restricted. No euro banknotes may be delivered to Russia (EU Official Journal Nr. L 63, 28-02-2022, P.1-4: Regulation (EU) 2022/345).
Restrictions on Russian Central Bank
It was decided to further restrict the Russian Central Bank's ability to support the ruble's exchange rate with international financial transactions. There is a ban on transactions related to the management of reserves and assets of the Central Bank of Russia, as well as on transactions with legal persons or entities acting on behalf of or at the direction of the Central Bank of Russia (e.g. the Russian National Wealth Fund) (EU Official Journal, Nr. L 57, 28-02-2022, P. 1-3: Regulation (EU) 2022/334; EU Official Journal Nr. L 81, 09-03-2022, P. 1-7: Regulation 2022/394).
Establishment of a Task Force
A task force with representatives from the U.S. and the EU will be established to ensure a quick implementation of the sanctions and to freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals, their families and companies.
- It is prohibited to enter the airspace of the EU for Russian aircrafts (EU Official Letter Nr. L 57, 02-28-2022, P. 1-3: Regulation (EU) 2022/334).
- Broadcasters are not permitted to broadcast Russian media such as Russia Today (EU Official Letter Nr. L 65, 03-02.2022, P. 1-4, Regulation (EU) 2022/350).
- Sanctions on the maritime sector: Maritime goods and technology listed in Annex XVI, whether originating in the EU or not, may not be supplied or exported, directly or indirectly, to natural or legal persons in Russia. In addition, the list of legal persons and entities subject to restrictions on financing through loans, transferable securities and money market instruments was extended to the maritime sector (EU Official Journal Nr. L 81, 09-03-2022, P. 1-7: Regulation 2022/394).
Fourth package of Sanction's
The EU has agreed on a fourth package of sanctions against Russia (EU Official Journal Nr. L 87I, 03-15-2022, P. 13-43: Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
- Russia's so called most-favored-nation (MFN) status in EU markets will be withdrawn. Thereby, important advantages that Russia enjoys as a WTO member will be cancelled. That would allow member states to unilaterally impose tariffs and other trade barriers against Russia. Under the WTO agreement, countries would normally not be allowed to be discriminatory between their trading partners.
- The Russian state and leading elites will be blocked from trading cryptocurrencies in order to prevent the circumvention of already existing sanctions (Press release of the President of the Commission 03-11-2022).
- Export of luxury goods from the EU to Russia will be banned. These include wines, beers, cigarettes, perfumes, clothing, jewelry etc. (Art. 3h Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
- Import of essential goods from the iron and steel sector as listed in Annex XVIII from Russia to the EU will be stopped. It is prohibited to directly or indirectly provide technical assistance, brokering services, financing or financial assistance, including financial derivatives and insurance and reinsurance, related to the specified goods (Art. 3g Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
- It is agreed upon a major ban on new European investment in Russia's energy sector. Export of equipment, technologies and services for the energy sector in Russia is not allowed (Art. 3a Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
- The Russian state and Russian companies will no longer be allowed to be rated by EU rating agencies. Access to subscription services in connection with rating activities may also not be granted (Art. 5j Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
- Transactions with Russian state owned enterprises listed in Annex XIX are prohibited. This includes those enterprises which are under public control or in public hand by more than 50%, or in which Russia and its government or the Central Bank of Russia has the right to participate in profits or have other significant economic relations with or enterprises outside the Union in which more than 50% of the shares are held directly or indirectly by one of the organizations listed in Annex XIX (Art. 5aa Regulation (EU) 2022/428).
Fifth package of sanctions
The EU has adopted a fifth package sanctions against Russia with the following measures. This fifth package includes six pillars:
- Ban on imports of coal from Russia worth EUR 4 billion annually.
- Complete ban on transactions against four Russian banks, including Russia's second largest bank VTB.
- Ban on Russian ships and Russian-operated vessels from calling at EU ports (exceptions include certain essential goods such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid, and energy) and ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport companies.
- Targeted export bans of EUR 10 billion on additional certain goods and technologies to Russia (e.g., quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery, and transportation equipment) to weaken Russia's technological base and industrial capacity.
- Further ban on imports of timber, cement, seafood, and alcoholic beverages (vodka).
- A ban on the participation of Russian companies in the awarding of public contracts in EU member states and an exclusion of any financial support from the Union or its member states for Russian public institutions.
Finally, additional natural and legal persons are also added to the European sanctions list. These are thus subject to the so-called ban on provision (see comments above).
Sanctions against Belarus
- Belarussian individuals were added to the sanctions list of Regulation 269/2014. The background is participation of Belarus in Russia's attacks on Ukraine by allowing military aggression from its territory. Among the sanctioned individuals are Belarusian politicians and members of the military (EU Official Letter Nr. 66, 03-02-2022, P. 1-13, Regulation (EU) 2022/353).
- Already existing sanctions against Belarus were extended. The export of dual-use goods to Belarus, goods and technologies that could contribute to the military, technological and national security development of Belarus, as well as the export of machinery to Belarus is prohibited (EU Official Letter Nr. L 67, 03-03-2022, P. 1-102, Regulation (EU) 2022/355).
- Transactions with the Central Bank of Belarus related to the management of reserves and assets, the provision of public financing for trade with Belarus and investments in Belarus and the provision of euro banknotes to Belarus or for use in Belarus are prohibited. The listing of shares of Belarusian state-owned enterprises on EU trading markets is not permitted (EU Official Journal Nr. L 82, 09-03-2022, P. 1-8: Regulation (EU) 2022/398).
II. ALREADY EXISTING SANCTIONS OF THE EU AGAINST RUSSIA
- The three packages of sanctions complement the already existing EU sanctions against Russia authorized after the Crimean annexation in 2014. These sanctions include financial sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations. Funds and assets have been frozen. The provision of funds is prohibited (Regulation (EU) 269/2014).
- There is an arms embargo: Arms may not be exported or imported. Supporting services such as financing arms projects and transport are prohibited. Certain dual-use goods are excluded from export. Furthermore, there are export restrictions on equipment and technology for oil production.
- Russian banks that are publicly owned by more than 50% can no longer place loans or similar financial products on the EU internal market.
Finally, there are regional sanctions concerning Crimea/Sevastopol (Regulation (EU) 692/2014), including a ban on import of goods originating in Crimea/Sevastopol and a ban on export of goods and technology listed in Annex III to natural persons or legal entities in Crimea or Sevastopol.
III. TO DOS' FOR MY COMPANY?
- Review of responsibilities and compliance organization: Export- and sanctions control is a management issue. The responsibility for "sanctions control" within the company has to be defined in writing and has to be made public. For companies that are exporting the listed goods, the person responsible is the head of export. The other tasks and responsibilities in connection with sanctions control must be clearly assigned and announced within the company.
- Checking all relevant business contacts for new sanctions: Checking whether there are any business contacts with the newly listed persons, companies and organizations. Use of professional screening software or based on the "consolidate list of sanctions".
- If necessary, termination of contracts, export transactions and payments: Depending on the result of the screening - even if doubts remain - contracts, export transactions and payments should be terminated or not executed. Seek legal advice if necessary.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.