Updated as of March 3, 2022
Key Takeaways of EU and UK Recent Actions Against Russia and Ukraine Breakaway Regions
- The EU adopted sanctions restrictions targeting financial institutions, other entities, and individuals, and imposing territorial restrictions on Donetsk and Luhansk. The sanctions also include broad export restrictions to Russia detailed below.
- In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised and adopted a “massive package of economic sanctions” including asset freeze restrictions; potential exclusion of Russian banks from the UK financial system, including preventing access by such banks to GBP and clearing services in the UK; and dual-use export restrictions to Russia.
EU RESTRICTIVE MEASURES
Asset Freezes on Certain Russian Banks
On February 23, 2022, The EU announced an array of sanctions targeting Russian banks. Those included an asset freeze of the following banks:
- Bank Rossiya (Банк «Россия»)
- PROMSVYAZBANK (ПАО Промсвязьбанк”)
- RF (a.k.a. Vnesheconombank; VEB) (ВЭБ.РФ)
All funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held, or controlled by the listed persons are to be frozen by EU persons and entities, and no funds or economic resources can be made available, directly or indirectly, to the relevant listed individuals and entities.
Export Restrictions to Russia
Dual-Use Items and Related Services
Concurrent with the sanctions discussed above, on February 25, 2022, the EU has further restricted the export of controlled dual-use and other items to Russia.
Under the previous measures, the supply of dual-use items to Russia was prohibited if those items were, or may have been intended, for military use or for a military end-user. That measure applied in addition to the standard EU export control regime, under which a license is required for exports of all dual-use items.
The new restrictions, which have been in place since February 25, remove the “military use or end-user” qualifier, and instead imposes a blanket ban on the supply of dual-use items to any Russian person or for use in Russia. The sanctions also prohibit providing technical assistance, brokering, and other services related to dual-use items, and providing related financing or financial assistance.
Other Restricted Items
The new measures also prohibit the export of a wide variety of items beyond the Dual-Use List. The Annex VII to Regulation 833/2014 contains items that the EU considers “might contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement, or the development of the defense and security sector.” The list of restricted items is extensive, and restricts a wide variety of electronics, computers, telecoms, information security, sensors and lasers, navigation and avionics, marine, and aerospace items not already controlled under the Dual-Use List. The list also includes mass market encryption items that are otherwise decontrolled under standard EU dual-use export controls.
There are several exemptions under certain EU General Export Authorizations (GEAs) including for the following purposes:
- Humanitarian purposes;
- Medical or pharmaceutical purposes;
- Temporary export of items for use by news media;
- Software updates;
- Use as consumer communication devices;
- Non-government cyber-security and information security; and
- Personal use of individuals and their immediate families travelling to Russia (generally covering personal effects and tools of trade not intended for sale).
In order to rely on EU GEAs, exporters must also notify the competent authority of their Member State within 30 days of the first use of the relevant exemption.
The sanctions also provide for certain licensing grounds as follow:
- Civilian co-operation between the EU, Member State governments and the Russian Government;
- Intergovernmental space co-operations;
- Civil nuclear use (including R&D);
- Maritime safety;
- Civilian telecommunications networks, including the provision of Internet services;
- The exclusive use by entities owned or controlled by an EU entity, or an entity from a “partner country”;
- The diplomatic representations of the EU, EU Member States, and “partner countries”; and
- Contracts concluded before 26 February 2022, provided that the license application is submitted before May 1, 2022
Note that an authorization may not be granted where a competent authority has reasonable grounds to believe that:
- The end-user might be a military end-user, a natural or legal person, entity or body in Annex IV or that the goods might have a military end-use; or
- The sale, supply, transfer or export of goods and technology or the provision of related technical or financial assistance services is intended for aviation or the space industry.
In 2014, the EU had adopted licensing requirements on supplies of certain items for use in upstream oil and gas projects. Those requirements remain unchanged by the new sanctions. However, the EU has introduced new prohibitions on the supply of additional items “suited for use in oil refining’. The list of restricted items is contained in a new Annex X to Regulation 833/2014, which restricts the items based on their customs tariff code. All of the restricted items are contained within Chapters 84 and 85 of the customs tariff.
Aviation & Space
The sanctions also restrict the list of aviation and space items contained in Annex X to Regulation 833/2014, which restricts the items based on their customs tariff code. All of the restricted items are contained within Chapters 84 and 85 of the customs tariff.
Further EU Sanctions Against Russia
The EU has adopted the following financial restrictions against Russia:
- Expanded existing financial restrictions, particularly those on access by certain Russian entities to capital markets;
- Prohibited the listing and provision of services in relation to shares of Russian state-owned entities on EU trading venues;
- Prohibited the acceptance of any deposits from Russian nationals and residents or entities established in Russia, if the total value of deposits exceeds €100,000 (not applicable to EU nationals or temporary/permanent residents); and
- Prohibited the provision of services by EU central securities depositories (CSDs) and the sale of euro-denominated securities to Russian people/entities (not applicable to EU nationals or temporary/permanent residents).
On February 28, 2022, the EU also adopted a ban on any transactions with the Central Bank of Russia.
On March 2, 2022 the EU introduced new sanctions entailing, inter alia, the disconnection of certain Russian banks from SWIFT.
As of March 12, 2022, the following banks will be cut-off from SWIFT:
- Bank Otkritie
- Bank Rossiya
- VNESHECONOMBANK (VEB)
- VTB BANK
In addition, the new EU Regulation prohibits the sale, supply, transfer or export of euro denominated banknotes to Russia or to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Russia, including the government and the Central Bank of Russia, or for use in Russia.
Asset Freezes and Expansion of Designation Criteria
The EU has designated Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as members of the State Duma, and National Security Council who supported Russia’s recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and those said to have facilitated the Russian military aggression from Belarus.
In parallel, the EU has amended the designation criteria for inclusion on the EU Russia sanctions list to include:
- People/entities supporting, materially or financially, or benefitting from the Government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine; and
- Leading businesspersons or entities involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the Government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.
Nord Stream 2 Restrictions
On a separate, but related note, on February 22, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
Air Travel Restrictions
On February 28, 2022, the EU imposed a ban on any aircraft operated by Russian air carriers, any Russian registered aircraft, or any non-Russian-registered aircraft which is owned or chartered, or otherwise controlled by any Russian person/entity, to land in, take off from, or overfly EU territory.
Asset Freezes on Certain Russian Banks
On February 22 and 28, 2022, the UK announced the designation of the following Russian banks:
- IS Bank;
- Rossiya Bank;
- PJSC Promsvyazbank;
- JSC Genbank;
- JSC Black Sea Bank Development and Reconstruction;
- Bank Otkritie Financial Corporation PJSC; and
The sanctions were imposed pursuant to the recently amended Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. UK persons are prohibited from providing funds or economic resources to the benefit of the designated banks. That includes transfers involving accounts held by non-sanctioned individuals at the designated banks. Additionally, dealings with entities owned or controlled by the newly designated parties will generally be considered as prohibited by the sanctions.
Export Restrictions on Russia
The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2022 prohibit the following:
- The export, supply, delivery and making available of dual-use goods and critical-industry goods.
- The making available and transfer of dual-use technology and critical-industry technology; and
- The provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds and brokering services in relation to dual-use goods and technology and critical-industry goods and technology.
Critical industry goods and technology include certain listed electronics, computers, telecommunications equipment, information security, sensors and lasers, navigation and avionics, marine and aerospace and propulsion (in each case with related software and technology also subject to controls) listed in Schedule 2A to the Regulation. This list is broadly aligned with a similar list enacted by the EU on February 25 (see above), building on equivalent U.S. lists of such items. Although, we note that the encryption controls and release are stricter than the ones applicable in the U.S. and the EU.
A number of exceptions from the trade prohibitions on critical-industry goods and technology are provided for, in relation to personal items and diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations, the movement of aircraft and vessels, consumer communication devices and software updates.
Asset Freezes on Russian Officials
On February 23 and 25, 2022, in addition to those designations, the UK designated the following persons:
- Members of the Russian Duma and Federation Council who voted to recognize the independence of the DNR and LNR; and
- Russian President Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
Further UK Sanctions Against Russia
On March 1 and 2, 2022, the UK published four Regulations which introduce new financial, export and shipping restrictions against Russia.
The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 introduce the following financial restrictions:
- Prohibition on dealing with securities or money-market instruments issued by, or providing loans or credit to a person connected with Russia (including Russian incorporated entities and residents) or the Russian Government.
- The prohibitions laid down above also apply to all entities listed in Schedule 2, now also including their UK subsidiaries. The following companies have been listed under Schedule 2 since 2014: Sberbank; VTB Bank; Gazprombank; Vnesheconombank (VEB.RF); Rosselkhozbank; OPK Oboronprom; United Aircraft Corporation; Uralvagonzavod; Rosneft; Transneft; and Gazprom Neft.
- Prohibition on UK credit or financial institutions from establishing or continuing a correspondent banking relationship and from processing sterling payments to, from or via , a “designated person” (currently applies only to Sberbank) or a credit or financial institution owned or controlled by them.
In parallel, the UK has issued 3 new Russia-related General Licences (GLs) to allow the wind down of certain activities and GBP processing caught by these new controls. These include the following (each with very specific scope and conditions):
- “Transferable securities, money-market instruments, loans and credit arrangements” which authorizes until March 8, 2022, certain dealings with transferable security or money-market instrument otherwise prohibited by the Russia regulations.
- “Correspondent Banking Relationships & Processing Sterling Payments” which authorizes until March 31, 2022 correspondent banking relationships between UK credit/financial institutions and Sberbank (and connected entities), and the processing of certain sterling payments between these entities.
- “Correspondent Banking Relationships & Processing Sterling Payments in relation to Energy” which authorizes until June 24, 2022, the processing of sterling payments between UK credit/financial institutions and Sberbank (and connected entities) for the purposes of making Relevant Energy Products available for use in the UK.
Further, Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2022 prohibit a UK individual or entity from providing financial services for the purpose of foreign exchange reserve and asset management to:
- The Central Bank of the Russian Federation;
- The National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation;
- The Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation;
- A person owned or controlled directly or indirectly by any of the persons above; or
- A person acting on behalf of or at the direction of any of the persons above.
The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2022 prohibit Russian ships, and other ships to be specified by the Secretary of State, from entering UK ports.
The registration of ships on the UK Ship Register is also prohibited where they are owned, controlled, chartered or operated by a designated person or persons connected with Russia, or where they are a specified ship.
 Note that VTB Bank and VEB.RF are also subject to asset freezes under UK sanctions (see above).