EU countries agree on new Russia sanctions, including coal embargo

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during a debate on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of March 24-25 2022

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European Union countries agreed on Thursday on a Russian coal embargo as part of a fifth round of sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The decision comes as evidence builds that Russian soldiers executed civilians in the villages and towns outside of Kyiv.

The package of sanctions was approved by the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, the French EU Council presidency said in a tweet, with the Council set to be published tomorrow.

“This very substantial package extends the sanctions against Russia to new areas and provides in particular, sanctions against oligarchs, Russian propaganda actors, members of the security and military apparatus and entities in the industrial and technological sector linked to Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the French EU Council presidency said.

It includes the freezing of assets of several Russian banks as well as a ban on exports to Russia including high-tech goods of up to €10 billion and the closure of EU ports to Russian-flagged ships.

The measures include the first EU sanctions against Russian energy with a coal embargo estimated to be worth €4 billion per year.

EU member states, many of which are heavily dependent on Russian energy, had as of yet been unable to agree on sanctions on Russian energy.

During a debate in the European Parliament, EU Council President Charles Michel said sanctions on Russian oil and gas are likely to be needed eventually.

“We must close the loopholes. We must target any attempt to circumvent sanctions and we are ready to move quickly,” Michel said on Wednesday.

“We have further coordinated robust sanctions. The new package includes a ban on coal imports. And ladies and gentlemen, I think that measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later.”

Hungary has said it would block any EU effort to extend sanctions to Russian oil and gas.

The fifth round of EU sanctions follows those of the United States and the United Kingdom that were announced on Wednesday.

The US sanctions targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family, singling out his two adult daughters in addition to key Russian banks.

Additional sources • AP

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