I propose to take Questions Nos. 81, 111 and 123 together.
Ireland implements UN sanctions, as adopted by the UN Security Council, and EU sanctions, as adopted as part of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. Ireland does not adopt unilateral sanctions; the sanctions in force in Ireland in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine are EU sanctions, agreed and adopted by all EU member states. Similar measures have also been adopted by the US, Canada, UK, Switzerland and other like-minded countries. This co-ordinated effort magnifies the impact of the sanctions, sending a message of unity beyond the economic impacts.
EU sanctions have been adopted on six occasions in response to the crisis in Ukraine: on 23, 25 and 28 February and on 1 to 2, 9 and 15 March. Together, these are the most extensive sanctions in the history of the EU. The aim is to incentivise President Putin to find a political solution to the conflict he has created and to reduce the funding and equipment Russia has available to continue its military campaign.
The sanctions have been adopted under two sanctions regimes in existence since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, as well as under the existing sanctions regime in respect of the situation in Belarus. A new sanctions regime has also been created, imposing restrictive measures on the non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in Ukraine. The sanctions are made up of sectoral measures, which target specific economic sectors, industries or broad areas, such as the media, and individual measures, which apply to named people and entities.
The sectoral sanctions introduced to date target the Russian financial, energy, technology and defence and transport sectors. Similar sanctions have also been introduced on Belarus, in view of the support it is giving to the Russian regime. Trade between the EU and the breakaway regions in Donetsk and Luhansk has been restricted. Restrictions have been introduced on the broadcasting of certain Russia state-owned media platforms in the EU, to try to limit disinformation. The financial sanctions on Russia are particularly wide-ranging, targeting 70% of the Russian banking system, as well as key State-owned companies. Among other things, they ban transactions with the Central Bank of Russia, restrict Russian access to the EU’s capital and financial markets and exclude certain Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system.
The most recent measures were adopted on 15 March and expand financial, energy, and security and defence sectoral measures. In particular, the sanctions prohibit transactions with certain Russian state-owned companies, prevent the provision of credit-rating services to Russia and restrict the import of iron and steel products from Russia. Exports of a wide range of luxury goods from the EU to Russia are also now prohibited.
Extensive individual sanctions measures have also been introduced since 23 February. A total of 685 Russians and Belarusians have been added to the sanctions list, and are therefore now subject to asset freezes and travel bans. Those sanctioned include decision-makers such as President Putin, his defence minister, his foreign minister and the members of the Russian National Security Council, Russian parliamentarians who voted in favour of the invasion of Ukraine, oligarchs who financially or materially support the military operations or benefit from them, Russian and Belarusian military figures and propagandists responsible for spreading disinformation about the Russian invasion. Fourteen entities have also been added to the list and are subject to asset freezes. These include banks, insurance companies, a so-called “troll factory” responsible for spreading disinformation and companies in the aviation, shipbuilding, machine building and defence sectors.
These most recent measures mean that 862 people and 53 entities have been sanctioned for actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Detailed information on all the sanctions adopted since this conflict began are available on my Department's website, including summaries of each of the new legal Acts adopted.
At the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, 21 March, there was broad agreement on the need to maintain economic and political pressure through the adoption of a further sanctions package in the short term. EU member states have a range of views as to what this further package should focus on. Ireland would favour restrictions on energy imports from Russia to the EU, specifically of coal, gas and oil, but we recognise that many EU countries will need time to undertake energy transition measures to reduce their dependency on Russian oil and gas. Another key priority for all member states is the rapid and effective implementation of the substantial packages of sanctions already agreed. Ireland has asked the Commission to prepare a rapid impact assessment of the sanctions adopted so far, so that we have evidence of what measures are working most effectively and where we may need to plug gaps in future.