European Union leaders are set to keep pressure high on Russia at a summit this week when they will underline that work continues on sanctions, according to a draft document, with gold being considered for a possible next round.
The EU has adopted six packages of sanctions against Russia and Belarus since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February, but several sectors including gas remain largely untouched as EU governments try to carefully avoid measures that could damage their economy more than Russia’s.
“Work will continue on sanctions, including to strengthen implementation and prevent circumvention,” EU leaders will say at the end of their regular summit on June 23-24, according to the latest version of their draft conclusions dated June 20 and seen by Reuters.
The text is a compromise between Nordic and Eastern countries who pushed for a clear reference to a seventh package in the summit statement, and nations such as Germany and the Netherlands who instead cautioned to focus on applying existing measures rather than immediately add more.
In a previous version of the text there was no mention of more work on sanctions, with the tweak representing a win for the hawks. But the new text does not explicitly refer to a seventh package, as wished by Berlin.
Although no new package is currently being prepared, work is ongoing to identify sectors that could be hit, officials said.
Gold is one of the possible next targets, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
At a closed-door meeting of EU envoys last week, Denmarksuggested the next sanctions could concern gold among other sectors, according to a spokesperson for the Danish ambassador to the EU.
A person familiar with the work on sanctions told Reuters the European Commission was working on adding gold to a possible next round of sanctions, although it was not yet clear whether the measure could ban export to Russia, imports from Russia or both.
Gold is a crucial asset for the Russian Central Bank, which has faced restrictions on accessing some of its assets held abroad because of Western sanctions
VIDEO: Widespread sanctions for Russia
EU united in support of Ukraine’s candidacy status, Asselborn says
European countries are united in their support for granting Ukraine the status of European Union member candidate, Luxembourg’s foreign affairs minister said on Tuesday.
“We are working towards the point where we tell Putin that Ukraine belongs to Europe, that we will also defend the values that Ukraine defends,” Jean Asselborn told reporters before a meeting with other EU ministers.
Sweden declares ‘early warning’ for potential gas supply disruptions
Sweden’s energy agency said on Tuesday it had activated the first step of a three-stage emergency gas supply plan for Western and Southern parts of the country to prepare for possible disruptions of natural gas from Russia.
The move was made after neighbouring Denmark, which supplies Sweden with piped gas, issued a similar warning on Monday.
Amid row with West, Putin ally arrives in Russia’s Kaliningrad -RIA
One of President Vladimir Putin’s top allies arrived in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Tuesday to discuss national security amid a row with NATOmember Lithuania which stopped the transit of EU-sanctioned goods to Russian territory.
Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of Russia’s Security Council, will chair a meeting about security in Russia’s northwest in Kaliningrad, the state RIA news agency said.
RIA said the trip, which included a discussion about transport, was planned before Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanianterritory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules.
Kaliningrad, formerly the port of Koenigsberg, capital of East Prussia, was captured from Nazi Germany by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after World War Two. It is sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
Lithuania said the ban on the transit of sanctioned goods across its territory was merely the implementation of EU sanctions, part of a swathe of measures intended to punish President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s foreign ministry is due to summon the EU’sambassador to Moscow over the situation which the Kremlin said on Monday was beyond serious.
Russian regulator blocks website of British newspaper The Telegraph
The website of British newspaper The Telegraph has been blocked in Russia following a request from the prosecutor general, data from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor showed on Tuesday.
Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia has cracked down on media coverage of the conflict, introducing15-year prison sentences for journalists who spread intentionally “fake” news about what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.