EU Sanctions on Russia Hit Oligarchs’ Lifestyle and Strategic Sectors from Banks and Planes to Caviar | K&L Gates LLP


In the last few weeks, the European Union has adopted measures to react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These new sanctions are in addition to the restrictive measures already imposed by the European Union on Russia since 2014, mainly in connection with the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The newly adopted measures are extremely broad in scope, varied in nature, and concern many different economic sectors. Some of the new measures expand the scope of previously existing restrictions, while others create brand new restrictions.

The table below provides an overview of the current status of the EU sanctions on Russia.

With the ongoing war, the scope of sanctions is regularly being expanded and additional measures are actively under consideration at the time of publication. Furthermore, the European Union adopted new sanctions against Belarus in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The EU sanctions on Russia (until and including the measures adopted on 15 March 2022) are analyzed in more detail below. Please note that the measures are subject to specific exceptions.


Targeted Personal Sanctions: Asset Freezes and Travel Bans

Asset freezes entail that all assets of the listed persons and entities are frozen. It is also prohibited to make any funds or assets directly or indirectly available to them. Travel bans prevent listed individuals from entering or transiting through the EU territory.

Legacy Measures

Since March 2014, the European Union has had asset freezes and travel bans in place on several hundreds of (mainly) Russian individuals and entities, typically because their actions have undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence. The lists of sanctioned individuals and entities have been reviewed and amended several times. They also include individuals responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds.

New Measures

Between 23 February and 15 March, as a reaction to the invasion into Ukraine, the European Union has added hundreds of additional persons and entities to the sanctions lists, reaching a total of 862 individuals and 53 entities. The new measures target, in particular:

  • President Putin and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, are only subject to asset freezes and not to travel bans, so that they will be allowed to travel to the European Union for negotiations;
  • All members of the Russian State Duma, who voted in favor of the decision of the Russian Federation to recognize Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as independent entities and to send Russian troops, and 146 members of the Russian Federation Council who ratified the government decisions of the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the Donetsk People’s Republic and between the Russian Federation and the Luhansk People’s Republic”;
  • Individuals and entities who have been considered to play a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine, including decision makers such as members of the government, banks, businesspersons, oligarchs financially or materially supporting Russian operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, or benefitting from them (such as Bank Rossiya, Promsvyazbank, and VEB.RF), senior military officers, individuals responsible for leading a disinformation war against Ukraine, and Belarusian nationals; and
  • The members of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation.
Economic Sanctions
Legacy Measures

Since 2014, the European Union adopted measures limiting the access to its primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies.

In particular, it prohibited making certain loans and credit to listed entities, as well as transactions with certain financial instruments issues by listed entities.

New Measures

These sanctions have been broadened considerably now. The new, restrictive financial measures include enhanced restrictions on transactions and dealings with certain financial instruments issued by listed institutions, as well as the prohibition to:

  • Accept deposits exceeding certain values ​​(exceeding € 100 000) from Russian nationals or residents, in order to limit the financial inflows from Russia to the European Union;
  • For EU Central Securities Depositories to hold accounts of Russian clients, ie, any Russian national or natural person residing in Russia or any legal person, entity, or body established in Russia;
  • Sell ​​euro-denominated securities to Russian clients;
  • Sell, supply, transfer, or export euro denominated banknotes to Russia or to any natural or legal person, entity, or body in Russia, including the government and the Central Bank of Russia, or for use in Russia;
  • Provide public financing or financial assistance for trade with, or investment in, Russia;
  • List and provide services (as of 12 April 2022) on trading venues registered or recognized in the European Union for the transferable securities of any legal person, entity, or body established in Russia and with over 50% public ownership;
  • Provide specialized financial messaging services, which are used to exchange financial data (SWIFT), to seven Russian banks;
  • Enter into transactions with the Central Bank of Russia;
  • Invest, participate, or otherwise contribute to projects co-financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund;
  • Enter into transactions with certain state-owned enterprises across different sectors; and
  • Provide credit rating services to any Russian person or entity.
Restriction on the Energy Sector
Legacy Measures

The European Union had previously imposed restrictions on the export of certain equipment (notably, equipment suited for oil exploration and production) and on the provision of related technical assistance or other related services, as well as the provision of financing or financial assistance. It had also prohibited the provision of services necessary in Russia for oil exploration and production in certain cases.

New Measures

The new sanctions include a prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer, or export to Russia of specific goods and technologies for use in oil refining and to provide related services (such as technical assistance and brokering services).

The new measures also include a far-reaching prohibition on new investments in the Russian energy sector, with limited exceptions (relating in particular to civil nuclear energy and the transport of certain energy products back to the European Union). In particular, the new measures prohibit the acquisition or extension of participation in Russian companies active in the energy sector, to finance such companies, or to create joint ventures with them.

Trade Restrictions
Legacy Measures

The European Union had previously imposed an export and import ban on trade in arms with Russia, and an export ban on dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia.

New Measures

The new EU sanctions include additional restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology, as well as restrictions on exports of certain goods and technology, which might contribute to Russia’s technological enhancement of its defense and security sector (such as semiconductors).

The European Union most recently imposed an import ban on iron and steel products, and an export ban on listed luxury goods if their value exceeds € 300 (including for example luxury cars and jewelry), with the aim of directly hitting Russian elites.

Restriction on Trade With Crimea and Sevastopol, and With Donetsk and Luhansk
Legacy Measures

In 2014, the Council of the European Union adopted restrictive measures in response to the “illegal annexation” of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia. Those measures, the scope of which is limited to those territories, included an import ban on goods, restrictions on trade and investment related to certain economic sectors, a prohibition on supplying tourism services, as well as an export ban on certain goods and technologies.

New Measures

The European Union has now imposed essentially the same restrictions on trade with Donetsk and Luhansk, in response to the Russian decision to recognize the two areas as independent entities and to send Russian troops into those areas.


Restrictions on the Transport Sector

The Council of the European Union imposed an export ban on listed goods and technology suited for use in aviation or the space industry (including aircraft and aircraft parts), as well as further restrictions to the export of maritime navigation goods and technology (with potential derogations for maritime safety, as well as exemptions for humanitarian and others purposes). The provision of services related to those goods and technology, as well financing and financial assistance related to those goods and technology, is now also prohibited.

In addition, EU member states are obliged to deny permission to land in, take off from, or overfly the territory of the European Union to:

  • Any aircraft operated by Russian air carriers (including as a marketing carrier in code-sharing or blocked-space arrangements);
  • Any Russian-registered aircraft; and
  • Any non-Russian-registered aircraft which is owned, chartered, or otherwise controlled by any Russian natural or legal entity.

Exceptions apply, eg, for emergency flights or landing, or for humanitarian purposes.

Restrictions on Activities of Russian State-Owned Media Outlets

On 2 March 2022, the European Union suspended the broadcasting activities in the European Union of Sputnik and Russia Today until the end of the aggression against Ukraine, and until Russia and its associated outlets cease conducting what the European Union considers disinformation and information manipulation actions against the European Union and its member states.

Sputnik and Russia Today have been specifically targeted because they are under the control of the Russian authorities and are considered key propaganda instruments to promoting and supporting the military aggression against Ukraine and to destabilizing its neighboring countries.

The European Union has therefore imposed a prohibition on operators to broadcast, or to enable, facilitate, or otherwise contribute to broadcast, any content by those entities including through transmission or distribution by any means such as cable, satellite, IP-TV, internet service providers, internet video-sharing platforms or applications, whether new or pre-installed.

Russia Today has already challenged the ban before the Court of Justice of the European Union.


In 2014, the EU-Russia summit and member states’ bilateral summits with Russia were canceled and since then Russia was excluded from the G7 summits. The European Union has now suspended the visa regime that allowed privileged access to the European Union for certain categories of Russian citizens, namely the members of the official delegations, the members of the national and regional Governments and Parliaments, the members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, citizens holding diplomatic passports, as well as business people and representatives of business organizations.

This measure does not affect ordinary Russian citizens.

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