Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the European Union (hereinafter the “EU”) continues to put in place restrictive measures to sanction Russian’s actions. The main objective of the EU, is to limit Russia’s abilities to finance the war against Ukraine.
On the 9th October 2023, the EU Parliament took a resolution regarding the effectiveness of EU sanctions against Russia. This resolution does an overview of EU sanctions against Russia. For example, despite EU sanctions against Russian on coal, Russia’s production increased by 0.3% compared to 2021. Since the start of the war, Russia has recorded revenues of €532 billion from fossil fuel exports, of which more than €178 billion is attributable to purchases by EU Member States. European imports of petroleum products made with Russian oil from India, for example, increased too. In addition, critical western components continue to be shipped to Russia via countries such as China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates or Serbia. These figures and observations enable the deputies to conclude that: EU and its Member States have to improve the effectiveness of the EU sanctions against Russia.
According to the EU Parliament’s resolution, there are several ways to ensure better effectiveness of these sanctions.
The first way, and most important one, is to reduce circumventions of EU sanctions. Indeed, as underlined before, Russia exports its products through non-EU countries. For example, petroleum products made from Russian oil, are exported to the EU from countries such as India. Thus, the Kremlin’s oil finds other paths to access to the EU market.
In addition, EU must break its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Indeed, EU remains one of the main customers for Russian fossil fuels, mainly because there are several exceptions to the ban on imports of crude oil and petroleum products.
All of these elements are not new. That is why, in 2022, the Council of EU adopted a decision which seeks to add the violation of restrictive measures to the list of EU criminal offences of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. EU also adopted in June 2023, the 11th package of sanctions against Russia. This package introduced a new anti-circumvention tool to tackle sanctions’ evasion. This tool enables the EU to restrict the sale, supply, transfer or export of certain goods and technologies subject to sanctions to certain third countries whose territory is deemed to be exposed to a high and constant risk of being used for circumvention purposes.
The resolution recalls that: “the effectiveness of international sanctions depends on the firmness, cohesion, cooperation, honesty and respect for commitments of the States that have adopted them”. Thus, it asks to EU Member States to improve their control concerning goods or persons targeted by the sanctions. Also try to completely close the EU market to fossil fuels of Russian origin.
In this dynamic, EU Member States will start to discuss, this week, the 12th package of sanctions against Russia. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated in her speech in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the 4th November 2023 that : “The new sanctions shall include up to 100 new listed individuals, new import and export bans, actions to tighten the oil price cap, and tough measures on third-country companies which circumvent the sanctions”. Circumventions of these sanctions will be a key aspect of this new package of sanctions.