For the first time, the EU will be able to sanction countries that help Russia evade sanctions | International

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The European Union has taken a quantum leap in its new sanctions package imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. This round of sanctions, the 11th, mainly seeks to punish anyone who helps the autocratic regime of Vladimir Putin to evade the sanctions that the Twenty-seven and the G-7 countries have imposed on him since he attacked his neighbor. A month and a half has passed since the European Commission presented this new initiative until the agreement between all the Member States to adopt it has been closed. Along the way, the list of Chinese companies that were going to be sanctioned for their collaboration with Moscow has been reduced, from eight to five, according to community sources.

It is the first time that this type of sanctions has been applied since the invasion began on February 24, 2022. Its design is intended to prevent the sale to Russia of civilian material that may have a military application, which is usually known as dual-use material. , and would apply to countries "whose jurisdiction is shown to have a continuing and particularly high risk of being used for circumvention," say EU sources. However, the sanction will be the last resort. Before reaching this point, the accusation will first have to be clearly demonstrated and then the diplomatic channel will be used to seek a solution. All these precautions apply because there are Member States, such as Germany, that had serious legal doubts about this new sanctioning mechanism.

The step has been taken after the EU has verified that countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states have considerably increased their trade with the Twenty-seven since the war began. This has raised suspicions that there may be Russian citizens who have set up their companies there.

In addition to this new tool and other punishments directed directly against Russia, the European Commission had also proposed in this round to punish eight Chinese companies for sending dual-use material to Russia. The list has been narrowed down to three Hong Kong-based companies, after intense negotiations between Brussels and Beijing, which has reportedly pledged to act to prevent it.

While the ambassadors of the Member States agreed on the 11th round of sanctions, the Conference for the Recovery of Ukraine began this Wednesday in London, which will last two days. The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and the World Bank have announced new multimillion-dollar aid for the reconstruction of the country devastated by Russian aggression. But the purpose of this international meeting, a continuation of the one held a year ago in Lugano (Switzerland), is above all to activate private investment in Ukraine as soon as possible.

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Nearly 400 large companies from at least 38 countries have already committed themselves, as announced at the beginning of the conference by the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to invest in Ukraine. The EU proposed this Tuesday an aid package of up to 50,000 million euros between 2024 and 2027. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, one of the main guests in London, put on the table an extraordinary contribution of 1,300 million dollars ( about 1.2 billion euros) for the reconstruction and modernization of the Ukrainian electricity grid and transport infrastructure. Downing Street promised, for its part, to guarantee up to 3,500 million euros in loans from the World Bank (WB).

According to the latest report carried out jointly by the WB, the United Nations and the European Union, the reconstruction of Ukraine will require a long-term investment of at least 411,000 million dollars. The Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II supposed, adding the inflation accumulated until today, the equivalent of about 150,000 million dollars.

“There is no place in the world where there is a greater need to rebuild as many objects as Ukraine. Each added day of Russian aggression brings with it new ruins. Thousands and thousands of houses destroyed, industries devastated, lives incinerated", said the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, who participated via videoconference in the opening session of the London meeting. The Ukrainian government knows that Europe looks at that country as a fundamental source of resources in the center of the continent, and defends a Green Marshall Plan that promotes renewable energy in the necessary reconstruction. “It is green energy that guarantees energy stability. Ukraine can and will be one of the main suppliers of clean energy and green hydrogen. The potential of this single project is close to 400,000 million dollars”, Zelenski assured.

Kiev's immediate objective for the London conference, however, is smaller: 6 billion dollars (about 5.5 billion euros) for the next 12 months, to help finance the first reconstruction projects. "Our ambition is to secure commitments of that amount at the end of this meeting," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmihal said.

Invest while there is still war

The main powers and countries that support Ukraine have wanted to once again highlight the message to Russia and Putin that they will maintain this aid until the end, and that their willingness to integrate Kiev into their area of ​​interests does not cease. "Today we are meeting here to tell the Ukrainians that their dream is also our dream," said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in London. “They tell us that when they imagine their future, they see the flag of Europe waving in their cities. I have not the slightest doubt that Ukraine will be part of our Union, ”she has assured.

But the messages of hope are accompanied by considerable doses of pragmatism. To demand that kyiv, for example, continue to push through all the necessary reforms to eradicate corruption and ensure that promised aid is properly channeled and used. And to ensure the way to mitigate the fears of many companies and funds, when it comes to investing their money in a country that is still at war. The main private insurers ceased their operations in Ukraine as soon as the Russian invasion began, and those that remained have been reducing the scale of their operations. The companies that continue to operate in the country only cover health risks or other claims unrelated to war or political instability.

“I can't think of a better place [en la Conferencia de Recuperación de Ucrania] to announce the New London Conference Hedging Framework,” Sunak said. "A huge step forward in helping insurers cover investments in Ukraine, thereby removing one of the biggest barriers today, and giving investors the confidence they need to act." The allies allowed the British government to put on the diplomatic medal of an idea that, however, had already been advanced by the European Commission and by countries like Poland or France. "Today I announce the establishment of an insurance mechanism to cover investments in Ukraine against war-related risks, through the Public Investment Bank," French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during the first day of the conference. .

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