‘We will defend ourselves’, promises Zelenskiy, amid warnings of imminent invasion – latest updates
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the commanders-in-chief of the Russian Air Force and the Black Sea Fleet, top state “propagandists” – as well as 351 Duma deputies – are expected to be targeted by EU sanctions announced later Wednesday.
The measures, which must be approved by EU foreign ministers, would go further than those announced by the United States – and well beyond Boris Johnson’s Russian sanctions.
If approved, the EU will impose asset freezes and travel bans on 23 people, three banks and a notorious internet ‘troll factory’ in St Petersburg, in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. The bloc is also expected to sanction 351 members of Russia’s State Duma who voted to recognize the two territories.
The Russian government will also see new restrictions on its ability to raise funds in EU financial markets. EU officials are also drawing up measures to ban trade between the two Russian-held territories in eastern Ukraine, mirroring earlier sanctions against Crimea in 2014.
“Everyone seems to be in favor of adopting sanctions,” said a European diplomat. EU capitals have a few hours to send in their comments, with ministers due to approve the sanctions by 3 p.m. CET.
At the top of the sanctions list is Shoigu, because he is “ultimately responsible for any military action against Ukraine”, according to the draft list consulted by the Guardian. He is joined by Anton Vaino, Putin’s Chief of Staff, who “plays an active role in decision-making”, as well as Igor Osipov, Commander-in-Chief of the Black Sea Fleet, and Sergei Surovikin, Commander Chief of Russian Aerospace Forces.
Other senior officials include Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of state-owned bank VTB, Dmitry Grigorenko, and Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of Russia’s state development bank, VEB, which plays an important role in financing its sector. of the defense.
The EU is also targeting Russian “propagandists”, including Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and RT broadcaster Margarita Simonyan, both known for their strident anti-Western rhetoric. Vladimir Solovyov, the pro-Kremlin presenter of the Russia One channel, is also on the list.
Other notable personalities include Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Known as Putin’s leader, Prigozhin funds the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which has also been added to the EU sanctions list. Based in St. Petersburg, the IRA is better known as the “troll factory”, where bloggers work around the clock to flood the global internet with pro-Putin and anti-Western views. According to US sanctionsPrigozhin is also suspected of being the “manager and financier” of the Wagner mercenary group, which is already under EU sanctions for its role in sending forces to conflicts in West Africa.
Prigozhin’s mother and wife, who own businesses linked to him, are also on the preliminary list.
Banks sanctioned are Bank Rossiya, considered by European and Western officials to be the personal bank of Putin and many of his officials, as well as Promsvyazbank and Vnesheconombank, both considered by European officials to have received personal instructions from the Russian president, with a key role in financing the Russian defense sector.
EU leaders have signaled that further sanctions could follow in the coming days. “Expect further discussion of the broader big bang sanctions package later this week,” the EU official said.