EU leaders approved 9th package of sanctions vs Russia, and new aid to Ukraine

On the night of December 16, the EU leaders adopted an €18 billion aid package for Ukraine. At the same time, European Union ambassadors approved the ninth round of sanctions on Russia.

On the eve of an EU leaders summit in Brussels, ambassadors worked to finalize the new sanctions package.

The final text was kept confidential since it must first be transmitted to and legally approved by all capitals of the EU. 

The proposal from the European Commission, which was made public last week, called for asset freezes and travel bans to be applied to 200 more Russian people and organizations. Ministers, parliamentarians, regional governors, political parties, and organizations like the military forces are among them.

Those will join the 1,241 people and 118 organizations that have already been blacklisted.

Additionally, the new sanctions package planned Russia’s export controls on goods like chemicals, nerve agents, electronics, and IT components that the armed forces and parts for unmanned aerial vehicles could use. It also targeted the Russian defense industry, other Russian banks, and the mining industries.

Days were spent because several EU countries disagreed on whether to include derogations that would permit payments to sanctioned Russian oligarchs who run businesses that export agricultural and food products.

To prevent a worrying global food crisis from worsening, the union has not penalized Russian agricultural and food products. However, the oligarchs’ sanctions bar EU participants from directly or indirectly participating in trade flows involving the companies they hold.

A legal clause, already present for sectoral sanctions, is anticipated to be included in the final text of the new package to address the naming of people and businesses. An EU diplomat told Euronews that this phrase is to provide EU businesspeople the legal assurance that they can work with significant food and agriculture enterprises owned by sanctioned oligarchs as long as they were already exporting when Russia began its invasion.

This is done to stop attempts to start new firms to get around sanctions.

To ensure Ukraine can pay for governmental deficits and maintain the economy while fighting Russia’s war of aggression, the EU leaders adopted an €18 billion macro-financial support package for Kyiv until 2023.

Hungary initially opposed the idea of raising shared debt by the EU to pay for the aid and lend it to Kyiv at a favorable rate.

Budapest overrode the EU’s veto earlier, though, after the EU member states decided to reduce the volume of funds that Budapest had blocked as part of the new rule of law mechanism from €7.5 billion to €6.3 billion.

The passage of the aid package was also in jeopardy due to a Polish veto over the implementation of a minimum worldwide company tax, but Warsaw, a fervent backer of Ukraine, also overruled its objection.

It’s thought that a virtual speech by the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he called the package “essential,” made a difference.

Zelensky pleaded with Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, “to make sure that our effort for peace for Ukraine and all of Europe does not depend on misunderstandings and disagreements between some EU member states.”

The macro-financial assistance packages for Ukraine are also tools for defending freedom. The ninth set of EU sanctions on Russia is similar. This serves as our defense. Please keep that in mind! We should be able to thank you for the first payment of this macro-financial package by the end of January, he continued.

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