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EU seeks to ban Russian gold in seventh sanctions package

July 15, 2022

The EU's seventh round of sanctions will target gold and tighten rules on previous packages. The bloc wants to ease the imports of Russian food and medicine.

A worker manufacturing gold bars at a plant in Russia
Russian gold could be subject to import bans in the EU if the 7th set of sanctions is approvedImage: Alexander Ryumin/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

The European Commission formally announced its proposal for a seventh package of sanctions against Russia on Friday in light of its monthslong war against Ukraine.

The sanctions are expected to target Russian gold imports into the EU and "to close exit routes" for actors trying to get around earlier sanctions, European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said.

The EU is looking for ways to "slap a sanction regime on gold, which is an important commodity for exports from Russia" following the announced ban of Russian gold imports by G7 members in June, Sefcovic said.

The 27-member bloc has already imposed six rounds of sanctions against Russia, with the most recent ban including the majority of Russian oil imports.

European affairs ministers were meeting in Prague on Friday to discuss the seventh package. "As soon as we reach an agreement at the level of member states, we will publish it," Sefcovic said before the meeting.

EU tightening previous sanctions

While some individuals close to the Kremlin will also be added to the list of people under sanctions, the package is considered to be more of "a maintenance and alignment package," the Reuters news agency reported.

Brussels is aiming to tighten restrictions on goods such as chemicals and machinery that could be used for military purposes.

It is also aiming to add clarifications to ensure that Russian food and medicine imports are not restricted by the sanctions. African countries have accused the EU of exacerbating the global food crisis with its sanctions.

Is scarcity Putin's weapon in Ukraine war?

A tweak to the previous packages aims to make clear that food and medicine imports are exempt from the sanctions, even when coming from Russian ports or being transported by Russian state-owned companies that are being directly sanctioned.

Ukrainian official joins meeting

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna was also in Prague for the informal EU meeting. 

"Nothing makes Russia so far feel accountable for [its] crimes," she told reporters on Thursday.

"We hope the next, seventh package of sanctions will have a strong restrictive potential and will be taken without further delay and as soon as possible," she added.

The first EU sanctions were imposed just before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Following a failed attempt to take Kyiv, Russian forces have concentrated their attacks in the east of the country where they have taken control of the Luhansk region and large parts of the Donetsk region.

ab/sms (AFP, Reuters)