Russia Ukraine conflict

EU agrees sanctions on 14 oligarchs, blocks transactions with Belarus central bank

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The EU agreed Wednesday to add 160 Russian oligarchs and lawmakers to its sanctions blacklist, target crypto-assets and hit the maritime sector over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, officials said.

The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead to cut three Belarusian banks from the global SWIFT messaging system over Minsk’s support for the Kremlin’s attack.

The EU is looking to close off loopholes in the unprecedented barrage of sanctions it unleashed along with Western allies after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion.

“We are further tightening the net of sanctions responding to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.

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A statement said 146 members of Russia’s upper house of parliament and 14 Kremlin-linked oligarchs and their relatives would be added to the assets freeze and visa ban blacklist.

The names are set to be unveiled shortly, when the sanctions are formally published in the EU’s official journal.

The bloc will also broaden restrictions to cover cryptocurrencies in a bid to prevent sanctioned individuals and companies using the encrypted digital systems to circumvent the sanctions.

The measures against the maritime sector will restrict exports of “navigation and radio communication technology” to Russia.

Kremlin ally Belarus has been used as a key launchpad for Moscow’s offensive and the EU is also stepping up measures against the country.

That includes cutting three banks, Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt, and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus, from the SWIFT system.

Furthermore the bloc will “prohibit transactions with the Central Bank of Belarus related to the management of reserves or assets” and limit financial inflows from Belarus into the EU.

The EU is trying to ratchet up pressure on the Kremlin and officials say they are ready to impose further sanctions on Moscow if it does not end the war.

But the bloc has so far rejected following the lead of the United States and targeting Russia’s key oil and gas exports given the reliance of member states on energy from its giant eastern neighbor.

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