Following the downing of MH-17, the EU has bolstered its stance against Russia and have increased sanctions on the State. However, broader and tougher sanctions are being called for.
On Tuesday 22 July, the European Council agreed (see here) to accelerate the asset freeze and travel bans which were concluded by the Council at a Special meeting on the 16 July. These are to be imposed on entities, including from the Russian Federation, that are “materially or financially supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”. It has been stated that this will include members of Vladimir Putin’s inner-circle.
In a statement, the Council explained that it is to, “accelerate the preparation of targeted measures agreed at the Special meeting of the European Council on 16 July, in particular to establish immediately a list of entities and persons, including from the Russian Federation, to be listed under the enhanced criteria adopted by the Council on 18 July, then to expand the restrictive measures with a view to targeting individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to or are benefiting from the Russian decision makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine, and to adopt additional measures to restrict trade with and investment in Crimea and Sevastopol, at the latest by the end of July”. The 16 July Conclusions can be found here and the 18 July statement here.
The Council is also preparing to impose sanctions which include restricting access to the capital markets, defence, dual use goods and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector. Further information on these extended measures is expected on Thursday 24 July. Adoption of these measures would bring the EU position more in line with that of the US, who have imposed sanctions on Russia’s banks, energy companies, arms companies and individuals close to Putin.