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Impasse in EU talks on 9th sanction package against Russia

An impasse has emerged in talks on the adoption of the 9th package of EU sanctions against Russia due to a far-reaching regression in the provisions that have been added to it, Poland’s Permanent Representative to the EU Andrzej Sadoś told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

According to PAP’s sources among diplomats, it appears that, under the guise of food security, provisions were introduced into the draft package that de facto allow each of the 1,500 individuals and entities subject to sanctions – including oligarchs and criminals – to be removed from sanctions lists, provided they have some stake in food production.

“Russian propaganda reports that EU sanctions led to the food crisis because Russian grain ships and Russian fertiliser exports were stopped… Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium want it to be possible at a national level to unfreeze the frozen assets of those sanctioned, provided these people have shares in the agricultural industry,” an EU diplomat told PAP.

Diplomats of countries opposing such a solution point out that this would enable any of those sanctioned to buy, for example, shares in a company involved in the trade or production of grain and, as a result, the person’s assets would be unfrozen.

Moreover, Russian propaganda would claim that its narrative holding the EU responsible for the food crisis was correct.

According to unofficial information – compressed natural gas, a type of gas produced in the processing of oil, has been removed from the list of energy commodities sanctioned at Greece’s request.

“It accounts for a quarter of the volume of gas that is banned from import from Russia. In this case, too, some countries do not want to accept it,” Sadoś told PAP.

Unanimity needed

Moreover, the Hungarians requested that three members of the Russian government, including Russia’s energy minister, be removed from the sanctions list. This sparked protests from some member states, including Poland.

Adoption of sanctions in the EU requires unanimity of the 27 member states. Despite the impasse, talks are due to continue in Brussels during the weekend with hopes of an agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed adding nearly 200 individuals and businesses to the EU’s list of sanctions against Moscow. The ninth package of restrictions would include the Russian armed forces and three banks in Russia.

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