Russian jewelry exempt from gold ban in EU sanctions plans – POLITICO

The European Commission on Friday announced plans to ban imports of Russian gold – but for now it is excluding jewelry from the list of sanctioned products, according to a draft seen by POLITICO.

The EU executive began drawing up plans to ban gold from Russia after the G7 economic powers announced last month they would do so in a bid to stifle revenue from the Kremlin war machine.

“Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine continues unabated,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press release. “Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression.”

The draft sanctions package, which still needs to be approved by EU countries, states that “it is prohibited to purchase, import or transfer, directly or indirectly, gold, such as listed in Annex XXVI, if it comes from Russia and has been exported from Russia to the Union or to a third country.”

But the draft annex to the document, obtained by POLITICO, shows that the bloc would only ban powdered gold, in raw or semi-finished form, as well as gold coins and gold waste or scrap. . The project does not list gold in the form of jewelry such as gold chains or gold rings. This could leave loopholes that prevent money from flowing into Kremlin coffers.

Russia exports gold for billions of euros every year. In 2019, around 90% of Russian gold exports went to the UK, which has now left the EU.

The Commission’s plans go beyond simply banning gold.

The proposal is part of a new implementation package which also introduces stricter reporting requirements for freezing the assets of sanctioned persons and tightens export controls on dual-use goods and advanced technology. For example, the Commission plans to ban exports to Russia of tear gas, fingerprint ink, police helmets and shields, as well as water cannons that can be used against people, according to the draft law. penalties.

In an apparent push to counter the Russian narrative that EU sanctions contribute to world hunger by blocking grain and food exports, the bill introduces some exceptions to the asset freeze. Countries can authorize the use of frozen assets when they are intended to prevent events that would have a “serious and significant impact on human health and safety or the environment”.

A similar exception applies to the import and transport of agricultural and food products, such as wheat and fertilizers.

Asked if this meant the EU had previously blocked the flow of fertilizers or grain, an EU diplomat said he thought it was more of an “almost cosmetic” step, “just to make sure the whole house is in order”.

“It’s not the Commission saying we’ve done things that are hampering the grain, but it’s making sure there are no side effects of other sanctions that could one way or another. ‘another create even a hint of administrative burden for exporting grain,’ the diplomat said.

According to several diplomats, EU foreign ministers will discuss the plans on Monday. EU ambassadors can then adopt the plan at their meetings on Wednesday or Friday.

After it took several weeks for the Commission to rally all countries to the latest round of sanctions – largely because Hungary suspended the oil ban – EU diplomats told POLITICO they expect this cycle to pass without major problems.

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