Update: EU adopts new sanctions package against Russia on 6 October

On 6 October 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted the latest package of sanctions against Russia over the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions (the “Eighth Package”). [1]

The Eight Package was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 7 October 2022.

The Eighth Package: [2]

  1. includes the introduction of a price cap related to the maritime transport of Russian oil for third countries and further restrictions on the maritime transport of crude oil and petroleum products to third countries;
  2. extends the list of professional services (architectural and engineering, legal advisory in non-contentious matters, and IT consulting services) that cannot be provided directly or indirectly to either: (i) Russian entities; or (ii) the Russian Government;
  3. covers a ban on EU nationals to hold any posts on the governing bodies of certain Russian state-owned or controlled legal persons, entities or bodies;
  4. extends the list of products subject to import and export related restrictions;
  5. a complete ban on the provision of crypto-asset wallet, account or custody services to Russian nationals, resident and entities;
  6. includes Restrictions imposed on the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (the “RMRS”);
  7. designates thirty more individuals and seven entities on the asset freeze list;
  8. extends the geographical scope to the non-government controlled areas of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

Ban on additional services to Russian companies and the Russian Government [3]

The previous EU sanctions packages included a full ban on the provision of the following services, both directly or indirectly, to Russian entities and the Government of Russia:

  • Accounting;
  • Auditing;
  • Bookkeeping;
  • Tax consulting services; and
  • Business and management consulting or public relations services.

As a result of the Eighth Package, the list now also includes:

  • architectural and engineering services;
  • non-contentious legal advisory services; and
  • IT consultancy services.

There are a few derogations to the rule, including, but not limited to:

  • the provision of the aforementioned services (under the Eighth Package) if “strictly necessary” for the termination by 8 January 2023 of non-compliant contracts concluded before 7 October 2022, including any ancillary contracts necessary for their execution;
  • for the exclusive use of Russian entities that are owned or (solely or jointly) controlled by an entity or body which is incorporated or constituted under the law of an EU Member State, the EEA, Switzerland, US, Japan, UK or South Korea;
  • receiving prior authorization from the competent authorities (and providing the other Member States and the Commission with notice of any authorisation granted within two weeks of being granted the authorisation) also exist for such services that are necessary for humanitarian purposes, civil society activities that promote democracy, human rights or the rule of law in Russia, the functioning of certain diplomatic and consular representation of the EU and partner countries in Russia, as well as ensuring critical energy supplies, infrastructures, hardware and software which are critical for human health and safety, or the safety of the environment, as well as key infrastructure (e.g., electronic communications services).

 Ban on management in listed Russian Government owned enterprises

One other notable addition is from 22 October 2022, it shall be prohibited for any person within the EU (nationals or residents) to hold any posts in the governing bodies of any legal person, entity or body in Russia or acting on behalf or at the direction of any entity, which is publicly controlled or with over 50% public ownership or in which Russia, its Government or Central Bank has the right to participate in profits or with which Russia, its Government or Central Bank has other substantial economic relationship.

There are additional derogations to the above that should be considered and which are not discussed in this brief overview.

 Additional products subject to an import ban [4]

The Eighth Package further extends the import ban on iron and steel products classified under the EU’s Combined Nomenclature (as defined under Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87) under Annex XVII (Part B):

  • iron and non-alloy steel” (CN codes 7206 to 7217);
  • stainless steel” (CN codes 7218 to 7223);
  • “other alloy steel; hollow drill bars and rods, of alloy or non-alloy steel” (CN Codes 7224 to 7229); and
  • “articles of iron or steel” (CN codes starting with 73). [5]

As regards the above products, the import ban shall not apply to contracts concluded before 7 October 2022 or of ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts until 8 January 2023.

The provision does not apply to semi-finished products or iron or non-alloy steel under CN codes 7207 12 10 and 7207 11 and are subject to specific exemption-based quotas until 31 March 2024 and 30 September 2024.

Within the provisions provided above, no authorisation is required.

The existing import (directly or indirectly) restrictions on iron and steel will also include iron and steel products that have been processed in a third-country incorporating iron and steel products originating in Russia.

Further, the existing import ban on jet fuels and goods “generating significant revenue” for Russia has been subsequently expanded under the Eighth Package (Annex XXI) and include (but not limited to):

  • cigars and cigarettes;
  • chemicals;
  • cosmetics;
  • plastic raw materials and products;
  • stones and precious metals;
  • wood pulp and paper;
  • machinery parts and electric motors and generators; and
  • electronic integrated circuits and parts.

With regard to the goods listed in Part B of Annex XXI, an exemption allows the execution of contracts concluded before 7 October 2022 until 8 January 2023.

In addition, the competent authorities may authorise the purchase, import or transfer of the goods listed in Annex XXI, or the provision of related technical and financial assistance, under such conditions as they deem appropriate, after having determined that this is necessary for the establishment, operation, maintenance, fuel supply and retreatment and safety of civil nuclear capabilities, and the continuation of design, construction and commissioning required for the completion of civil nuclear facilities, the supply of precursor material for the production of medical radioisotopes and similar medical applications, or critical technology for environmental radiation monitoring, as well as for civil nuclear cooperation, in particular in the field of research and development.

 Additional products subject to an export ban

The Eighth Package prohibits the sale, supply, transfer, or export (directly or indirectly) of firearms, their parts and essential components and ammunition and related services as listed in Annex I to Regulation (EU) 258/2012 to a person in Russia or for use in Russia.

It is prohibited to sell, supply, transfer or export (directly or indirectly) goods and technology which might contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement, or the development of the defence and security sector, which includes the following products, including, but not limited to:

  • semiconductors;
  • electronic integrated circuits;
  • photographic cameras;
  • certain chemical substances and nerve agents; and
  • other goods which have no practical use other than inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. [6]

In addition, the Eighth Package (under part B of Annex XI) adds aviation related products that are subject to the export ban, including, but not limited to:

  • types of oil;
  • tires; and
  • brake discs and pads. [7]

An exemption allows the execution of contracts concluded before 7 October 2022 until 6 November 2022 or of ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts. No authorisation is required in this regard.

Finally, it is prohibited to sell, supply, transfer or export (directly or indirectly) goods which could contribute in particular to the enhancement of Russian industrial capacities, including, but not limited to:

  • coal;
  • lignite;
  • peat; and
  • coke of coal;

An exemption allows the execution of contracts concluded before 7 October 2022 until 8 January 2023 or of ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts. No authorisation is required in this regard.

 Crypto-assets

It is prohibited to provide crypto-asset wallet, account or custody services to Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia, or legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia.[8]

 Asset freeze of additional individuals and entities [9], [10]

The Eighth Package extends the list of individuals and entities subject to asset freeze restrictions concerning individuals and entities that have played a role in the organisation of the “referenda”, representatives of the defence sector, and well-known persons spreading disinformation about the war.

The Eighth Package introduced two specific derogations to the asset freeze subject to a prior authorisation from the competent authorities.

Finally, the Eight Package introduced a new provision to apply to all natural or legal persons, entities or bodies facilitating infringements of the prohibition against circumvention of the applicable sanctions provisions.

 Russian Maritime Register of Shipping

Under the previous sanctions packages, it is prohibited to provide access, after 16 April 2022, to ports and, after 29 July 2022, to locks in the territory of the EU, to any vessel registered under the flag of Russia, with the exception of access to locks for the purpose of leaving the territory of the Union.

The above restriction applies to the RMRS and has been added to Annex XIX of Council Regulation 833/2014, making it subject to the transaction ban in Article 5aa. An exemption allows the execution of contracts concluded with the RMRS before 7 October 2022 until 8 January 2023. Within the provision provided above, no authorisation is required.

The Eighth Package also requires EU Member States to withdraw any authorisation provided to the RMRS to perform any tasks relating to maritime safety, including inspections and surveys related to statutory certificates. Any statutory certificates issued by the RMRS on behalf of an EU Member State before 7 October 2022, need to be revoked by 8 April 2023.

As from 8 April 2023, the prohibition on access to EU ports and locks for any vessel registered under the flag of Russia will also extend to any vessel certified by the RMRS.

Price cap and restrictions on the maritime transport of crude oil and petroleum products to third countries [11]

The EU had introduced a ban on the direct or indirect purchase, import, or transfer into the EU of crude oil or petroleum products originating in Russia or exported from Russia.

The Eighth Package bans the maritime transport (directly or indirectly) and related technical assistance, brokering services or financing or financial assistance to such maritime transport including through ship-to-ship transfers, to third countries of crude oil or petroleum products as listed in Annex XXV which originate in Russia or which have been exported from Russia (as of 5 December 2022) or petroleum products (as of 5 February 2023, unless determined by Council Decision.

Derogations apply to the restriction relating to the import and transport of Russian crude oil and petroleum products originating in a third-country, for example, and only loaded in, departing from or transiting through Russia are exempted, provided that both the origin and the owner of the products are non-Russian.

The above is solely a brief descriptive summary of the Eighth Package and it is neither intended nor should be used as a legal opinion on the interpretation or application of the Eighth Package in any given situation.

[1]      European Commission, ‘Ukraine: EU agrees on eighth package of sanctions against Russia’ (6 October 2022) https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5989 accessed 10 November 2022.

[2]     Official Journal of the European Union, L 259I, 6 October 2022.

[3]      Council Regulation (EU) 2022/1904 of 6 October 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, the Council of the European Union (Regulation (EU) 2022/1904).

[4]      Regulation (EU) 2022/1904.

[5]     Annex XVII, Regulation (EU) 2022/1904.

[6]    Regulation (EU) 2022/1904.

[7]     Ibid.

[8]     Article 1, Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1909 of 6 October 2022 amending Decision 2014/512/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, the Council of the European Union (Decision (CFSP) 2022/1909).

[9]     Council Regulation (EU) 2022/1905 of 6 October 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, the Council of the European Union (Regulation (EU) 2022/1905).

[10]    Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/1907 of 6 October 2022 amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, the Council of the European Union (Decision (CFSP) 2022/1907).

[11]     Regulation (EU) 2022/1904.

by Diāna Ķīse, Junior associate, Latvia

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