Ukraine has blocked access to several Russian websites and imposed asset freezes and broadcasting bans on a number of Russian television channels. The blocked websites include Russian search engine Yandex, social-networking sites Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte, and the websites of Russian cybersecurity firms Kaspersky Lab and DrWeb.
The Ukrainian government’s Security and Defence Council said that the ban was imposed in part to protect against entities “whose activities threaten the information and cyber security of Ukraine”. Over 400 Russian entities have been sanctioned by Ukraine since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
Ukraine has prohibited Russia’s Eurovision contestant from entering the country, preventing her from taking part in the competition that is due to be hosted in Kiev in May this year. The singer, Julia Samoilova, said that she performed in Crimea in 2015; Ukraine has accused her of entering Crimea illegally, having entered the country from Russia and not through Ukraine. Leading Russian politicians have called for the contest to be boycotted.
Ukraine is reported to have proposed sanctions on 5 Ukrainian subsidiaries of Russian banks in which the Russian state has an interest (Sberbank, VTB, Prominvestbank, VS Bank). According to an official from Ukraine’s central bank, the sanctions prevent the subsidiaries from removing capital from Ukraine.
The EU has decided to renew its asset freezing measures and travel bans on people and entities said to be involved in undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity (and related criteria) for a further 6 months, until 15 September 2017. The EU has also removed 2 deceased people from its listings bringing the total to 150 people and 37 entities listed on these measures.
See Implementing Regulation 2017/437 implementing Regulation 269/2014 and Decision 2017/445 amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP.
The EU has renewed its asset freezes relating to people identified as being responsible for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds for 1 year, following its annual review. They were first introduced in March 2014. See Implementing Regulation 2017/374 implementing Regulation 208/2014 and Decision 2017/381 amending Decision 2014/119/CFSP.
The EU Council has published its conclusions on EU relations with Switzerland, in which it notes Switzerland’s voluntary alignment to EU sanctions on a case-by-case basis. It encourages Switzerland to remain consistent in the application of sanctions, including in preventing their circumvention, and invites Switzerland to align itself further with EU sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
The EU’s press release is here.
EU foreign ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to continuing sanctions against Russia until it complies with its obligations under the Minsk peace agreements. The G7 nations also took this position when they met in May last year (see previous blog).
Speaking today, the EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini said that although she “cannot say where the US administration stands on this…I can say where the Europeans stand on this”. Setting out the UK’s position, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that “The UK will be insisting that there is no case for the relaxation of the sanctions, every case for keeping up the pressure on Russia”.
In October 2016, UK bank NatWest informed state-owned Russian news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) that it would no longer be providing it with banking services in the UK. NatWest is now reported to have changed its position, following discussions with RT.