The European Union is set to issue new sanctions against Russia tomorrow. Initially, the sanctions were set to come out on Tuesday, however, they were delayed as officials within the EU had "sharp disagreements on how to react to a ceasefire in Ukraine."
This newest round of sanctions will target oil and defense companies. While sanctions have not previously targeted oil, these sanctions are not all that final — if the ceasefire holds in Eastern Ukraine, European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy has told Agence France-Presse he will move to roll them back. In usual fashion, the sanctions also freeze the assets and ban travel for 24 individuals, specifically powerful Russian citizens and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Of particular note is the EU's move to strike into the heart, and pockets, of the Kremlin: these new sanctions target oil. While it does not bar EU nations from participating in the oil trade with Russia, they do prevent European banks from issuing financing to Russian oil and defense firms. This means Russia will have to turn elsewhere to finance these two incredibly profitable sectors. This move comes shortly after Rosneft, Russia's biggest and baddest oil company, requested a loan of over $40 billion from the Kremlin, due to their rising debt.
Additionally, these sanctions will affect deep sea drilling, Arctic oil exploration, and Arctic oil production. One of the most well-known Arctic deals is between Rosneft and ExxonMobil. In the event the U.S. adopts this specific sanction, this will affect a deal that is potentially worth $900 billion. ExxonMobil spokesperson Alan Jeffers told The Wire, "We are assessing the sanctions. It is our policy to follow all laws." Rosneft has not replied to request for comment.
The White House offered this statement:
Today, we join the European Union in announcing that we will intensify our coordinated sanctions on Russia in response to its illegal actions in Ukraine. I have said from the very beginning of this crisis that we want to see a negotiated political solution that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Together with G-7 and European partners and our other Allies, we have made clear that we are prepared to impose mounting costs on Russia. We are implementing these new measures in light of Russia’s actions to further destabilize Ukraine over the last month, including through the presence of heavily armed Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. We are watching closely developments since the announcement of the ceasefire and agreement in Minsk, but we have yet to see conclusive evidence that Russia has ceased its efforts to destabilize Ukraine.
We will deepen and broaden sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors. These measures will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him. My Administration will outline the specifics of these new sanctions tomorrow.
The international community continues to seek a genuine negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine. I encourage President Putin to work with Ukraine and other international partners, within the context of the Minsk agreement and without setting unreasonable conditions, to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict. As I said last week, if Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back. If, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.
In retaliation, Russia is set to issue their own sanctions against the European Union. They have been threatening to prevent planes from entering their airspace for some time, so plan your trips that require flight over Russia accordingly.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.