EU targets Russian coal, ships in new sanctions

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a press statement after a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 5, 2020. (European Union/Handout via Xinhua)

Brussels, April 6 (IANS) The EU is proposing the fifth round of sanctions against Moscow, which among others target coal imports from Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

Von der Leyen on Tuesday said the six-pronged proposed sanctions will be discussed and given the final seal of approval by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier EU sanctions had targeted hundreds of Russian individuals including President Vladimir Putin, MPs and oligarchs. Sanctions also targeted Russia’s financial and energy sectors.

The EU is heavily dependent on imported Russian gas but a plan has been set in motion to cut this dependency by two-thirds by the end of this year and make Europe entirely independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2030.

Von der Leyen said the planned new measures include a ban on coal imports worth 4 billion euros a year.

The proposed sanctions also included a full ban on four Russian banks, including Russia’s second-biggest bank, VTB.

In a statement, von der Leyen said the European Commission was also pushing for a ban on Russian ships entering EU ports and on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. There would be exemptions for agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid and energy.

It was also proposing bans on EU exports in advanced semiconductors and machinery, worth 10 billion euros, and a ban on EU imports of wood and cement, seafood and alcohol from Russia, together worth some 5.5 billion euros.

Russian companies would be barred from taking part in competing for contracts across the EU.

The EU was also working on other sanctions including on imports of Russian oil, she said.

“We are working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and are reflecting on some of the ideas presented by the member states, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account,” von der Leyen said.

She said the EU was also proposing to add further individuals to a list of people whose assets in the bloc will be frozen and who will not be allowed to enter the EU.

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