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EU agrees fresh sanctions on Russia over Ukraine war

Approval of the package was held up by coastal countries including Belgium and the Netherlands

THE EU AGREED a fresh round of sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine on today, after complaints from hawkish eastern European leaders some countries tried to water them down.

The bloc’s executive arm last week proposed a ninth round of sanctions on Moscow. They included blacklisting “almost 200″ individuals and entities, targeting three banks, curbing mining investments and banning more Russian TV channels.

In the face of Russian strikes on Ukraine, the EU also looked to impose a ban on supplying drone engines to Russia and Iran, the latter of which has supplied warhead-equipped drones used in Moscow’s attacks.

Approval of the package was held up after coastal countries including Belgium and the Netherlands asked for exemptions on previous sanctions targeting Russian fertiliser producers, which Poland and Lithuania said were unacceptable.

Officials said a compromise deal was reached on the sidelines of an EU leaders summit in Brussels and that the sanctions would be formally confirmed tomorrow.

“Ambassadors agreed in principle on a sanctions package against Russia as part of the EU’s ongoing support for Ukraine,” the EU’s Czech presidency tweeted.

Diplomats said that after the wrangling some exemptions for “food security and fertilisers” had been passed as part of the agreement.

Lithuanian’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis complained that the new sanctions package “was a missed opportunity”.

“Sad that we had to spend so much time discussing derogations, not stronger sanctions,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said Poland and Lithuania had “managed to secure optional security safeguards that close any loopholes”.

Ahead of the deal, Ukraine’s top diplomat had slammed efforts to roll back any sanctions already in place on Moscow.

“Attempts to allow Russian oligarchs and companies to derogate from the already imposed EU sanctions deal a blow to the entire sanctions regime,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

“We strongly oppose them and thank EU members who do so too.”

The EU has already imposed eight waves of unprecedented sanctions on Russia since it launched the full-scale invasion in February, including targeting its key oil exports.

But diplomats have warned that the bloc is increasingly running out of ways to hurt the Russian economy as the war drags on towards its 10th month.

The bloc has shied away from targeting gas supplies from Russia for fear of further pushing up energy prices. It has also steered clear of sectors important to individual member states, such as diamonds.

The EU, along with its partners in the G7, introduced measures last week aimed at capping the price of Russian oil sold on the world market, in a bid to limit funds for Moscow’s war machine.

The EU’s ban on seaborne crude imports from Russia also came into force, after initially being agreed early this year.

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