Ireland joins EU’s hawks to propose sweeping sanctions on Russia

Joint proposal with Poland and Baltic states proposes ban on selling real estate to Russians

Ireland has joined with Poland and the Baltic states to propose harsh new sanctions to impose on Russia in response to president Vladimir Putin’s mass mobilisation and nuclear threat.

The joint proposal by Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland has been circulated to other European Union member states ahead of a key meeting in Brussels in a bid to push the EU as a whole to adopt the toughest possible new measures to pressure Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine.

The document of proposed measures seen by The Irish Times runs to nine pages and lays out extensive new sanctions including wide-ranging import and export restrictions with Russia.

It would bar a list of Russian banks including Gazprombank from using the interbank messaging system SWIFT. The EU should “ban the sale of real estate to Russian citizens and companies” unless the individuals are EU residents, while Russian-owned, operated or chartered boats would be banned from EU ports.

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The provision of ICT services to Russia would be heavily hit, with a ban covering the provision of cybersecurity services, web-hosting, maintenance and software. The measures propose a “ban on using Kaspersky Lab technology in the EU”, referring to the Russian cybersecurity firm.

The paper proposes broadening a ban on Russian broadcasters in the EU to include three additional television channels and six “web-based propaganda channels”, while strengthening a ban on providing crypto currency services to all “Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia”.

EU NGOs and think tanks would be prohibited from accepting financing from the “Russian state and its affiliates including oligarchs”, the proposal lays out.

It further proposes a ban on liquefied petroleum gas imports from Russia and cooperation on nuclear energy, and backs a wide expansion of the prohibition on selling certain technologies to buyers in Russia.

The new measures would ban lobbying on behalf of Russian entities, along with the provision of a range of services including engineering, architecture and advertising.

EU ambassadors are set to meet on Wednesday to try to reach a consensus on fresh sanctions to impose on Russia. Irish officials met with the European Commission on Saturday as part of rounds of consultations known as “confessionals”, in which EU member states lay out what sanctions they can support.

The sanctions proposals under development by the commission, due to be laid out in the coming days, are expected to include banning some €9 billion worth of imports from Russia including semi-finished steel, non-industrial diamonds, and various measures in the chemicals, plastics, paper, and jewellery sector.

In addition there is expected to be a large extension to the list of electrical components that can no longer be sold to Russia. The state is suspected of mass-purchasing ordinary electronic goods, dismantling them and repurposing their parts for military use.

Poland and the Baltic states, as Russia’s closest neighbours, have long called for tougher action on Moscow and are known as the EU’s hawks on the issue. The Irish Government’s decision to join their sanctions proposals is viewed by officials as consistent with Dublin’s long-voiced support for the toughest possible economic measures against Russia.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O'Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times