On 21 January 2019, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted Decision (CFSP) 2019/86 amending Decision (CFSP) 2018/1544 concerning restrictive measures against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, listing nine individuals and one entity under the EU's Chemical Weapons Sanctions regime. This is a new regime of restrictive measures (sanctions) against the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, which was established in October last year.

The Council Decision was implemented by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/84, adopted on the same day.

The designations include two officials of the Russian military intelligence service GRU, Mr Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and Mr Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin, as well as the Head and Deputy Head of the GRU, Mr Igor Olegovich Kostyukov and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev.

According to the Council's press release, the GRU officials are "responsible for possession, transport and use in Salisbury (UK) of a toxic nerve agent on the weekend of 4 March 2018", referring to the so-called "Novichok" poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March last year.

Alongside the designation of the GRU officials, the Council also imposed sanctions on the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), a Syrian entity held "responsible for the development and production of chemical weapons", as well as five Syrian officials directly involved in its activities.

The designations of the Russian and Syrian persons and entity are the first designations under the new Chemical Weapons Sanctions regime of the EU. The sanctions under the EU's Chemical Weapons Sanctions regime consist of an asset freeze and, where it concerns individuals, a travel ban. In addition, it is also prohibited for EU persons and entities to make funds and economic resources available to the listed persons, directly or indirectly.

Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/86 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/84 were published in the Official Journal of the EU on 21 January 2019 and the sanctions imposed by these acts are applicable as of the same day.