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EU FMs meet in Brussels, agree to ban import of Russian gold

European Union member states have reached a consensus regarding the inclusion of banning the import of Russian gold as part of the next, seventh, package of sanctions against Russia. They also agreed to further monetary support for Ukraine.

The new package of sanctions against Russia bans the importation of Russian gold and reinforces the control over the export of dual-use and high-tech products. The list of individuals and entities with ties to the Kremlin that will be sanctioned will also be expanded by over 50. The existing financial and economic sanctions will be more clearly defined. The European Commission, which discussed the sanctions the previous week has also recommended that the current sanctions are extended by six months, until a review at the end of January 2023.

For the sanctions to become effective, all individual member states must agree to implement them.

The foreign ministers have also approved another EUR 500 mln of EU funding to supply arms to Ukraine. Together with this aid package, the EU will have provided Ukraine with a total of EUR 2 bn since Russian forces invaded the country on February 24.

Following the meeting, Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the press that Poland welcomes the sanctions and hopes the ban will also include Russian-manufactured jewellery. Speaking of the Russian propaganda narrative, according to which the West is responsible for instigating the war, Polish FM said that in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, such an optic is quite popular. He stressed the need to fight against this narrative in the international forum. “Sanctions should be applied to the very idea of promoting the so-called ‘Russkiy Mir’ [Russian World – an imperialistic and aggressive policy of Kremlin towards former Soviet republics]. It needs to be treated as a totalitarian ideology,” added Rau.

Even prior to the meeting numerous diplomats expressed their determination in continuing to sanction Russia. Anna Lührmann, German Minister for EU affairs said that “It is important to show that we will stand by Ukraine in the long term. Russia is trying to wear us down, and we are opposing this with European and transatlantic unity.”

“We must not falter,” said Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s FM “The line is that with the sanctions we want to force Putin to come to the negotiating table and at least impose restrictions on the means he has to wage war. We have to maintain that.”

The general mood of the upcoming meeting was probably best summarised by Josep Borrel, EU’s head of foreign policy, who said that “Some European leaders have been saying that the sanctions were an error, were a mistake. Well, I don’t think it was a mistake. It is what we had to do and will continue doing.”

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