On Russia: EU Broadens Blacklist, US Starts an Economic War

Written by | Monday, March 24th, 2014

Brussels has recently agreed to broaden the list of those Russians and Ukrainians whose assets are to be frozen as a response to the annexation of Crimea. As a result, the total number of the blacklist individuals will be 33. In addition to asset freezing, the EU is about to restrict freedom of movement for the selected individuals as well as discuss the possibility of a so-called “third stage” of sanctions.
After EU leadership commenced their close-door talks in Brussels on March 20, US President Obama announced that the United States would also expand their blacklist by additional 20 individuals including Sergei Ivanov, the chief of staff of Vladimir Putin’s government. Moreover, the EU representatives have also decided to cancel the 3 June EU-Russia summit along with bilateral meetings following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s disputed peninsula and the referendum that both the EU and US deem illegitimate.
However, even though Europe has enlarged the list of its candidates for sanctions, Brussels cannot go as far as Washington can, allegedly due to different legal bases. Thus, it is not probable that Mr Ivanov of Alexei Miller, CEO of the oil giant Gazprom, will be added on the blacklist. This, according to observers and analysts, makes the European blacklist rather weak. In contrast, Americans have also dared to include the bank “Rossiya” on their list calling it “Putin’s personal bank”. According to the opinion of the EU, blacklisting “Rossiya” already takes the sanctions into what Brussels calls a third stage of sanctions, that is an economic war.
The ”Third stage of sanctions” is a possibility open to Europe, yet all hope that it will be unnecessary since it would include sanctioning important economic industries and sectors. Angela Merkel added that the top priority for the next few days will be sending out observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Ukraine. If the OSCE mission does not succeed, the EU is ready to deploy its own mission along with the launch of the third phase of sanctions.

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