EU and US sanctions against Russia could target Putin’s daughters | Russia

The European Union and the US are expected to announce further measures against Russia, with reports that sanctions targeting the daughters of President Vladimir Putin were under consideration.

A day after Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, gave harrowing testimony to the UN about atrocities he described as war crimes, EU diplomats were preparing to discuss a ban on Russian coal, ceasing transactions with four key banks and banning many Russian ships from EU ports later on Wednesday.

The Russian leader’s closest family members could be added to the growing list of sanctions, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported, citing people the news outlets said were familiar with the plan. It is not clear if those sanctions, against Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, will come from the US, EU or both.

However, tensions were rising among member states in the EU around the new measures.

Lithuania, one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies in the EU, said the current proposals were “not really an adequate response” to the horrors being discovered in Ukrainian towns, following the departure of Russian troops.

“Coal, four banks (deswifted already), a ban on ports and borders (with exceptions) is not really an adequate sanctions package to the massacres that are being uncovered,” said Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. “A feeble response is just an invitation for more atrocities. It could and should be stronger.”

Lithuania announced on Sunday it had stopped all imports of Russian gas, the first EU member state to do so, but the bloc as a whole, which gets 40% of its gas imports from its eastern neighbour, is reluctant to take that step.

The EU accelerated faltering talks on further sanctions against Russia, as evidence emerged of alleged war crimes against defenceless civilians in towns that had been controlled by Russian forces. In harrowing testimony to the UN security council on Tuesday, Zelenskiy described how people had been shot, tortured, raped and crushed by tanks, urging that Russian leaders be brought to justice for war crimes via an international tribunal modelled on the Nuremberg trials of Nazis. “There is not a single crime that they would not commit there,” he told the assembly. “They killed entire families – adults and children – and they tried to burn the bodies.”

As well as a ban on coal and on Russian ships (with exceptions for humanitarian aid, food and energy), the European commission has proposed a full transaction ban on four Russian banks, including the second largest, VTB. The EU, however, has already decided to cut VTB off from the Swift messaging system, meaning it is already much harder to do business with the bank.

Under the proposals announced by the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, on Tuesday, Russian and Belarusian road transport companies would be banned from entering the EU. The commission also wants to ban the export of hi-tech goods, including quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, to Russia. Certain Russian imports would be banned, including wood, cement, seafood and alcohol products estimated to be worth €5.5bn to Russia each year.

The plans are now being studied by EU capitals, which are likely to amend the measures before seeking unanimous agreement, either on Wednesday or Thursday.

After a meeting with his German counterpart in Berlin, the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said European sanctions will include “coal and oil”.

If passed, the measures would be the fifth package of EU sanctions since Vladimir Putin declared he would recognise the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, groundwork for the unprovoked invasion he launched days later. While the first four rounds of EU sanctions were agreed relatively quickly, tensions have been rising over the next steps.

Poland and the Baltic states have been calling for a total ban on Russian fossil fuel exports, while Germany, which gets 55% of its gas from Russia, is concerned about unemployment and rocketing petrol prices. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who was congratulated by the Kremlin on his electoral victory on Monday, also opposes a ban on gas and oil. Austria is also seen as lukewarm on the plans. “It’s clear Vienna, Budapest and Berlin are less happy,” said a diplomat from one of the so-called “sanctionista” countries that favour a tough line.

Germany supports the coal ban, which would target trade worth €4bn a year to Russia. Last month the deputy chancellor and economy minister, Robert Habeck, announced a plan to phase out Russian coal by the end of the summer and oil by the end of the year. “By the end of the year, we aim to be almost independent,” he said.

The Netherlands,…

Read More: EU and US sanctions against Russia could target Putin’s daughters | Russia

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