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

The EU and US are expected to announce new measures against Russia, with reports that sanctions targeting President Vladimir Putin’s daughters were being considered.

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

The Russian leader’s closest family members could be added to the growing sanctions list, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported, citing people who media outlets said knew about the plan. It is not clear whether these sanctions, against Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, will come from the United States, the EU or both.

However, tensions were rising between EU member states over the measures. Lithuania, one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies in the bloc, said the proposals were “not really an adequate response” to the horrors uncovered in Ukrainian cities after Russian troops left.

“Coal, four banks (already unplugged), a ban on ports and borders (with exceptions) are not really an adequate set of penalties for the massacres that are uncovered,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius said. Landsbergis. “A weak response is only an invitation for more atrocities. He could and should be stronger.

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

The EU has accelerated tentative talks on new sanctions against Russia as evidence of alleged war crimes against defenseless civilians in towns that had been controlled by Russian forces emerged.

In harrowing testimony before the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Zelenskiy described how people were shot, tortured, raped and run over by tanks, urging that Russia’s leaders be brought to justice for war crimes by the through an international tribunal modeled on the Nuremberg trials against the Nazis. “There is not a single crime they are not committing there,” he told the gathering. “They killed whole families – adults and children – and they tried to burn the bodies.”

In addition to the ban on Russian coal and ships (except for humanitarian aid, food and energy), the European Commission has proposed a total ban on transactions for four Russian banks, including the second, VTB. The EU, however, cut VTB from the Swift messaging system, making it much more difficult to do business with the bank.

Under proposals announced by 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 high-tech products, including quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, to Russia. Some Russian imports would be banned, including timber, cement, seafood and alcoholic products estimated at 5.5 billion euros for Russia each year.

The plans are being studied by EU capitals, which are expected to modify the measures before seeking a unanimous agreement on Wednesday or Thursday.

After meeting with his German counterpart in Berlin, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said EU sanctions would include coal and oil.

If passed, the measures would be the fifth set of EU sanctions since Vladimir Putin said he would recognize the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, setting the stage for the invasion. unprovoked that he launched a few days later. While the first four rounds of EU sanctions were agreed relatively quickly, tensions have risen over the next steps.

Poland and the Baltic states have called for a total ban on Russian fossil fuel exports, while Germany, which gets 55% of its gas from Russia, worries about unemployment and soaring oil prices.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who was congratulated by the Kremlin on Monday on his election victory, also opposes a ban on gas and oil. Austria is also seen as lukewarm on the plans. “It is clear that Vienna, Budapest and Berlin are less happy,” said a diplomat from one of the so-called sanctionist countries who favor a hard line.

Germany backs the coal ban, which would target trade worth €4 billion a year to Russia. Last month, Vice 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 nearly independent,” he said.

The Netherlands, home to the EU’s largest port, Rotterdam, would support a ban on Russian vessels. Proponents of tough sanctions are also calling for the removal of “some strange waivers” to existing sanctions, for example by closing loopholes in previous measures banning the sale of EU luxury goods to Russia.

In a separate speech to the Spanish parliament on Tuesday, Zelenksiy called for a ban on lucrative Russian oil exports. Drawing parallels between the bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and the attack on his country, Zelenskiy said “the fate of the whole European project, the values ​​that unite us” were at stake in Ukraine.

Russia has denied responsibility for the deaths, saying photos were staged or people were killed after their forces withdrew. Satellite images, however, show bodies lying in the streets of cities under Russian occupation.

EU sanctions are being drawn up in coordination with the White House, which has promised a ban on all investment in Russia. “The goal is to force them to make a choice,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Most of our goal here is to exhaust the resources Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine.”

“You can expect … them to target Russian government officials, their family members, Russian financial institutions, as well as state-owned companies,” she said.

She declined to comment on reports from the Wall Street Journal that the sanctions would target Putin’s two daughters.

Edward K. Thompson