EU clarifies sanctions against Russian aviation

Assistance to the industry is allowed in certain cases, while Russia’s food trade is exempt from sanctions
EU clarifies sanctions against Russian aviation

The EU has clarified what types of transactions with Russia are still allowed amid the ever-expanding sanctions Brussels has imposed on Moscow over its offensive in Ukraine. The list of exemptions includes technical assistance to the Russian aviation industry under specific circumstances, as well as any transactions related to the food and fertilizer trade.

Technical assistance to Russia for aviation-related goods and technology will not violate any of the bloc’s restrictions as long as it is “needed to safeguard the technical industrial standard setting work of the International Civil Aviation Organization,” the European Council said in a statement on Thursday.

Transactions with “certain state-owned entities” in Russia will also be allowed if they are linked to agricultural products or the transport of oil to third countries, the statement added. Trade “in agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilizers” between Russia and any third country is also not affected by existing EU sanctions “in any way,” it said.

“We are … extending the exemption of transactions for agricultural products and transfer of oil to third countries,” the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said, commenting on the decision. “The EU is doing its part to ensure we can overcome the looming global food crisis,” he added.

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Any non-EU nations and their citizens “operating outside of the EU” can also purchase any pharmaceutical or medical products from Russia without fear of repercussions from Brussels, the statement said.

The statement came as the bloc slapped Moscow with its seventh round of sanctions, which included an EU-wide ban on Russian gold imports. The bloc also froze the assets of Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender. The sanctions expanded the list of “controlled items” that Brussels believes “may contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement or the development of its defense and security sector.” A port access ban for Russian vessels was extended as well.

The EU Commission described the latest round of restrictive measures as a “maintenance and alignment” package intended to tighten loopholes in existing sanctions and align the EU with its other Western allies on gold imports.

The US and its allies in Europe and elsewhere have been introducing sweeping sanctions against Russia since the start of its military operation in Ukraine. Several rounds of measures targeted Russia’s banking and finance sectors, including a freeze on central bank reserves, as well as personal restrictions against Russian officials and businessmen deemed close to the Kremlin. A number of Russian banks were also disconnected from the SWIFT messaging system.

In the previous round of sanctions, the EU banned Russian oil. Now, the bloc is planning to lower its gas use by 15% to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports.

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