New EU sanctions package against Russia: crude oil, chemicals, consulting services and personal embargoes

The European Union has adopted a further package of sanctions against Russia. The package incudes in particular a ban on imports of Russian crude oil, export restrictions on, among other things, chemicals which could be used for the production of chemical weapons, restrictions on consulting services to Russian legal entities, organizations or institutions and the government, and the expansion of the personal embargoes (sanctions lists).

In particular, the EU sanctions package, which entered into force through corresponding regulations on June 3, 2022, comprises the following elements:

  • Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/878 added another 65 individuals and 18 entities to the financial sanctions list.
  • Regulation (EU) 2022/880 specifies the applicability of financial sanctions, in particular with regard to European telecommunications service providers. In addition, the member states are required to implement appropriate measures to ensure that violations are punished, especially under criminal law.
  • The biggest changes resulted from Regulation (EU) 2022/878, which expands the previous Regulation No. 833/2014:
    • Direct and indirect ban on imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia or of Russian origin, including the ban on technical assistance, brokering services, financing and financial assistance in connection herewith. The ban does not apply to the purchase of crude oil through pipelines; there are exceptions in this regard. In addition, there are extensive transitional arrangements and state-dependent special regulations.
    • Prohibition of transport insurance of petroleum mainly by sea.
    • Export bans on additional products, mainly chemicals, newly added to Annex VII, which are believed to serve to strengthen Russia's defense and security sector.
    • Exclusion of three more major Russian banks from the SWIFT system as of June 14, 2022.
    • Prohibition of broadcasting operations for three Russian radio stations.
    • Prohibition on the provision of audit, tax, accounting, management consulting and public relations services to legal entities, organizations or institutions established in Russia and the Government of Russia. There are exceptions to this for existing consulting relationships and the basic right to legal assistance.

Urgent review recommended
Due to the tightening of sanctions, companies should urgently review the extent to which Russia-related transactions are still permissible under the currently applicable provisions. Companies should also take into account that even if the core business is permissible, individual services that are required for implementation may be subject to a ban. This may concern, for example, the transport of goods to or from Russia, the processing of payment flows or similar. Here, too, companies should thoroughly check the situation in advance in order not to expose themselves to any risks under criminal law and potential administrative fines.