By Gabriela Baczynska
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union countries were “on good track” to adopt new sanctions against Moscow in time for the Feb.24 one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to diplomats in Brussels.
They spoke under the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of talks among the representatiives of 27 EU member countries about the proposed new sanctions estimated to be worth some 11 billion euros ($11.8 bln) in trade flows.
“The package should be concluded well in time for February 24th, it’s on good track, there are no major sticking points,” said one EU diplomat familiar with the discussions.
Another said the talks were “overall relatively positive” with some technical questions brought up to be clarified before another meeting of the ambassadors, possibly next Tuesday.
“There were some concerns raised by some member states around the reporting requirements – how it would work exactly and would there be penalties for not doing it and so on, it’s mostly a recognition of this being a complex process.”
The EU is looking at agreeing new reporting obligations for the member states to better track Russian assets in Europe as they look for ways to use them to finance rebuilding Ukraine.
The EU has so far located around 33.8 billion euros worth of Russian central bank assets on its territory, according to EU officials, from an estimated $300 billion frozen outside of Russia.
The EU says its 10th package of sanctions now discussed is designed to make financing the war more difficult and starve Russia of parts needed to build arms for the front.
The measures, which still require the unanimous approval of all EU states, would target four more Russian banks, imports from Russia, including rubber, and exports to Russia including heavy vehicles, among others.
They would also punish individuals linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards over production of drones used against Ukraine, and restrict EU sales of satellite data to China.
The head of EU executive, the European Commission, said taken all together the sanctions against Russia were the toughest the bloc has ever imposed.
Implemented in sync with the United States and other allies in the G7 group of the world’s most industrialised countries, the sanctions have yet to force a change of course from Russia, which has intensified its attacks in Ukraine in recent weeks.
(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)