EU agrees new sanctions against Russia at end-of-year summit

EU leaders gathering in Brussels for their last meeting of 2022 had busy agenda dealing with internal disagreements and a subsidy spat with the United States. A corruption scandal also overshadowed the event.

European Union leaders ended their year much as it started, with a meeting focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

At a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday, the latest developments in the war and ways to help Ukraine get through this winter were high on the agenda.

Fresh sanctions on Moscow were approved despite disagreements over easing the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers through European ports. EU leaders also reached an agreement on a 15% minimum tax on large, multinational businesses.

EU’s ninth round of sanctions

An agreement was reached over a new package of sanctions against Russia which is set to be confirmed in writing on Friday.

Full details were not revealed but the sanctions are expected to include travel bans and asset freezes on close to 200 more Russian officials and military officers, as proposed by the European Commission last week.

The bloc is also likely to ban the delivery of drone engines to both Russia and Iran, which has been accused of providing “kamikaze” drones for deployment against Ukrainian civilian targets.

Pleas from some countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium to be exempt from previous sanctions on importing Russian fertilizer were discussed in sideline meetings after threatening to hold up the new sanctions.

Poland and some Baltic states were concerned relaxing them would allow Russian oligarchs who own fertilizer businesses to dodge EU sanctions against them.

“Ambassadors agreed in principle on a sanctions package against Russia as part of the EU’s ongoing support for Ukraine,” the EU’s Czech presidency tweeted.

Minimum tax rate deal approved despite opposition

The bloc also gave its approval to join the international plan, with almost 140 countries signed up, to set a minimum tax rate of 15% on multinational businesses.

Related video: International organisations and more than 50 countries pledge €1 billion to Ukraine (Dailymotion)

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