Brussels (The Times Groupe)- As the war in Ukraine continues, the European Union adopted its sixth sanctions package against Russia on Friday.
“By imposing further economic sanctions, we are further restricting the Kremlin’s ability to finance the war,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell commented on the EU Council’s decision.
The package includes a ban on Russian oil imports, giving EU member states six months to reduce crude oil imports and eight months to reduce other refined petroleum products.
Oil pipelines are temporarily exempt from the embargo, as a concession to Hungary.
Furthermore, Bulgaria and Croatia are also granted further exemptions on the import of seaborne oil and vacuum gas oil.
The European Commission calculated that the sanctions will cut 92% of Russian oil trade into the bloc by the end of this year.
It expands the list of dual-use goods and technologies that cannot be exported to Russia because they could support the military and defense sector.
Additionally, the sanctions package excludes Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, as well as Credit Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank, and the Belarusian Bank For Development And Reconstruction from the SWIFT international payment system.
Three more Russian state-owned broadcasters were added to the EU’s list of banned media outlets, including Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24, and TV Centre International.
These outlets are said to be used to manipulate information and disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine, including propaganda, with the aim of destabilizing Russia’s neighboring countries and the EU.
Borrell says the EU is also taking action against those responsible for the atrocities committed in Bucha and Mariupol.
Leading business people and their families, as well as Kremlin officials, are subject to travel bans and asset freezes.
At their summit on late Monday night, EU leaders reached an agreement on the sixth set of restrictive measures after a month of stalled negotiations.
The new package complements previous sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as banning the export of luxury goods and coal imports, and prohibiting Russian and Belarusian banks from using SWIFT.
The EU has allocated €2 billion ($2.15 billion) in military aid to Ukraine and mobilized more than €4 billion in macro-financial assistance, humanitarian aid, and support to EU countries hosting Ukrainian refugees since the war began on Feb. 24.
Ukraine will also receive a further €9 billion in credit from the EU.