EU set to add 14 more Russian business leaders to sanctions list

EU set to add 14 more Russian business leaders to sanctions list

The EU was due to add 14 Russian businessmen with close ties to the Kremlin and 146 lawmakers to its sanctions list on Wednesday, as part of approved measures in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The new measures target executives of some of Russia’s largest companies outside banking and oil and gas, including the billionaire owners of major coal and fertilizer producers, and the chief executive of national airline Aeroflot, according to legal documents seen by the Financial Times.

They target high-profile figures in companies that the EU says “provide a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation”. The bloc also extended its restrictive measures to the Belarusian financial sector.

The measures, which include travel bans and asset freezes, come on top of Ukraine-related sanctions already implemented by the EU, which include disconnecting seven Russian banks from the Swift global messaging network, a ban on foreign currency transactions by the country’s central bank; and banning planes from the bloc’s airspace.

Almost all of the targeted new leaders attended a partially televised meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on the first day of the invasion, which the EU said was proof that each individual was “a member of the innermost circle close” to the Russian president.

Mikhail Poluboyarinov, chief executive of Russia’s national airline Aeroflot, will be added to the list, along with coal oligarch Andrey Melnichenko – estimated by Forbes last year as Russia’s eighth richest man – and Dmitry Pumpyansky, the billionaire owner of TMK, a company that manufactures oil and gas pipelines.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, with Aeroflot chief Mikhail Poluboyarinov in the Kremlin last year © Alexei Druzhinin/TASS/Getty

Andrei Guryev, managing director of PhosAgro – Europe’s largest producer of phosphate-based fertilizers – will also be named to the list, alongside Dmitry Mazepin, the majority shareholder of rival fertilizer company Uralchem.

Mazepin’s son Nikita – who, until his recent sacking after the invasion of Russia, was a Formula 1 driver for the Haas team, sponsored by his father’s company – will be another name on the list.

Brussels is also targeting the Russian digital sector. Among those subject to sanctions are Mikhail Oseevsky, chairman of Russian telecommunications company Rostelecom, and Vladimir Kirienko, chief executive of VK, which controls Russia’s three largest social media portals. Vadim Moshkovich, the billionaire owner of agribusiness conglomerate Rusagro, is another group to be named on the sanctions list.

The EU will also impose sanctions on Dmitry Konov, chief executive of Russia’s biggest petrochemical producer Sibur, and 146 members of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, who voted to recognize Kremlin-backed breakaway areas. in eastern Ukraine as independents. – a move that gave Putin a premise to order the invasion.

The bloc clarifies that existing sanctions against companies, banks and individuals extend to cryptocurrencies. Trade in digital assets has exploded in recent weeks, raising fears among central bankers that they could be used to circumvent the sanctions regime.

Financial restrictions imposed last month on Russian banks and its central bank have also been extended to Belarus, given its involvement in the military offensive against Ukraine.

The three Belarusian banks that will be eliminated from the Swift messaging system are Belagroprombank, Belarus’ fourth-largest bank by revenue, state lender Bank Dabrabyt and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.

The bloc prohibits all trade with the Central Bank of Belarus, except for certain transactions that are “necessary to ensure the financial stability of the [EU] or of the Member States”, according to acts which will be published in the Official Journal of the EU. Companies more than 50% owned by the Belarusian state will be banned from EU trading venues from April 12.

The bloc also prohibits all public funding to Belarus, except for projects benefiting small and medium-sized businesses in the EU, financial aid for food trade and for agricultural, medical or humanitarian purposes.

As is already the case for Russian nationals, Belarusian individuals and companies will be prohibited from making deposits in EU banks in excess of €100,000, with some exceptions. The sale, supply, transfer or export of euro banknotes to Belarus or any person or company in Belarus, as well as the central bank and its government, is also prohibited.