EU to ban loans to Russian central bank after Putin orders troops across border

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The European Union has decided to ban loans to the central bank of Russia and to sanction 351 members of the State Duma who voted in favor of recognizing the dissident parts of Ukraine.

It comes in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the separatist enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and his decision to send military forces to secure them.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Russia’s push into eastern Ukraine “crossed a line” that would meet a firm and united response from EU leaders.

The EU should jointly condemn the move as “illegal and unacceptable” and in violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international law.

Ambassadors have received proposals to sanction 351 Russian State Duma members who voted in favor of the move, which may involve asset freezes and travel bans.

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has been held after Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, deepening a security crisis on the continent. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA

In addition, the sanctions proposals name 27 people who are decision makers, involved in financially supporting the company, part of the military advance or the “war of disinformation against Ukraine”.

Trade restrictions in place for occupied Crimea are set to be extended to breakaway regions, while the sanctions would also freeze the assets of two Russian private banks and prevent lending to the Russian central bank.

Ambassadors to the EU meet throughout the day to finalize agreement on the proposals, which will then be formalized by officials before taking effect. The EU is expected to warn that sanctions will be “significantly increased” if Moscow takes further action.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Taoiseach spoke in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who on Monday called Russia’s move a “serious breach” of international law and diplomatic agreements. Mr Scholz announced that he had intervened to stop the licensing process for a new Russian undersea gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2. “The situation has changed dramatically,” he said.

Nord Stream 2 is a 1,200 km gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which was to deliver gas from Russia to Germany, pending German and EU approval.

Around the same time, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sanctions against three Russian billionaires with links to Mr Putin, as well as five banks.

‘Cooling effect’

Mr Martin said Russia’s entry into Ukraine had created a “chilling effect for small states on the European continent” and called on Russia to reconsider its actions.

“It crosses a line, it is a flagrant violation of international law and an attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Martin said. “Our unity is our strength and there is a very clear unity of purpose within all EU member states.”

Ukrainian military forces in the Donetsk region examine a Swedish-British NLAW portable anti-tank guided missile which was transferred to units as part of Britain's military-technical assistance.  Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty

Ukrainian military forces in the Donetsk region examine a Swedish-British NLAW portable anti-tank guided missile which was transferred to units as part of Britain’s military-technical assistance. Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty

Mr Scholz acknowledged that the move violated the UN Charter and the Helsinki Accords on national sovereignty and the security of national borders – as well as the more recent Minsk agreement.

“It is up to the international community to respond to these unilateral, incomprehensible and unjustified actions of the Russian president in a coordinated and targeted manner,” he said. “We are therefore sending a signal to Moscow that such actions will not remain without consequences.”

British sanctions

Mr Johnson said on Tuesday that Russia was heading for ‘pariah status’ and the world must now prepare for the next stage of Mr Putin’s plan, saying the Kremlin was preparing the ground for a full-scale invasion from Ukraine.

Mr Johnson told the UK Parliament that five banks – Rossiya, IS Bank, GenBank, Promsvyazbank and Black Sea Bank – were being sanctioned, along with three people: Gennady Timchenko, Igor Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg. But Mr Johnson has refrained from imposing limits on Russia’s biggest state banks, cutting capital from Russian companies or ejecting other prominent Russian oligarchs from Britain.

“This is the first installment, the first barrage of what we’re ready to do,” he said. “Any assets they hold in the UK will be frozen and those affected will be banned from traveling here.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for MPs to update on the latest developments regarding Ukraine.  Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to brief MPs on the latest developments regarding Ukraine. Photography: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Several British politicians have called on Mr Johnson to be tougher on Russian money, even demanding that Russian oligarchs be expelled from Britain and Russian money extracted from the City of London.

The United States imposed sanctions on Russia immediately after Mr Putin announced on Monday President Joe Biden signing an executive order to halt US business activity in breakaway regions.

The troops move

A Reuters witness saw tanks and other military equipment pass through the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk after Mr Putin officially recognized the separatist regions and ordered the deployment of Russian forces to “keep the peace”.

Ukraine’s military said two soldiers had been killed and 12 injured in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in the east in the past 24 hours, the highest number of casualties this year, as ceasefire violations -fire increased.

He also said he recorded 84 cases of shelling by separatists who he said opened fire on around 40 settlements along the frontline with heavy artillery, in violation of ceasefire agreements. .

Russia denies any plans to attack its neighbour, but it has amassed troops on Ukraine’s borders and threatened ‘military-technical’ action unless it receives broad security guarantees, including the promise that Ukraine will never join NATO.

Martin–Scholz Conference

In Berlin, Mr. Martin and Mr. Scholz also discussed the post-pandemic economic recovery in the EU as well as the continuing tensions in the Brexit process. At their joint press conference, Mr Scholz described German-Irish relations as “close, trusting and good”.

Berlin and Dublin had a particular interest in pursuing close relations with the UK, he said, but it was now up to London to step up to the European Commission and find practical solutions for implementation. of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The UK government must uphold its commitments under international law and implement the protocol,” he said.

“It is the guarantee of freedom and peace on the island of Ireland, to protect the internal market and it is a central pillar of the relationship between the UK and the EU that we agreed after Brexit .” – Additional reports Reuters, Guardian


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