The EU is said to be moving closer to agreeing new sanctions that could block Russia from accessing its capital markets, arms and energy technology.
The plans that emerged in recent days for wide-ranging new sanctions are being considered in an escalation of the bloc’s response to the Ukraine crisis in the wake of the fatal downing of flight MH17.
Ambassadors from the 28 member states discussed proposals for new sanctions on Thursday and Friday, Brussels-based news service EurActiv reported.
The plans are due to go to national governments in draft form over the weekend and could be adopted as soon as Tuesday if agreement is forthcoming, the report said.
Fifteeen individuals and 18 companies and other organisations are meanwhile set to be added to the EU’s current asset freeze list in an announcement expected late on Friday.
The European Union would target state-owned Russian banks vital to financing Moscow’s faltering economy, in the most serious sanctions so far over the Ukraine crisis, under proposals considered by EU governments yesterday (24 July).
Ideas put forward for new sanctions include restricting exports to Russia of technology for deep-sea Arctic drilling and shale exploration, diplomats were quoted as saying.
The officials said the proposals could impact both Russia’s proposed South Stream gas pipeline to south-east Europe and its Yamal liquefied natural gas project by barring access to specialist pipe equipment.
Wider plans could see European investors banned from buying debts from Russian state-owned banks, an arms embargo.
The largest banks with state ownership of more than 50% are Sberbank, VTB, Russian Agriculture Bank (Rosselkhozbank) and VEB.
Diplomats said the trio of energy, defence and financial sanctions were aimed at spreading the burden of the measures among the main EU powers as they would affect German technology, Britain’s financial centre and French defence sales.