Sanctions against Russia: recent development (March 2nd updates)

 

On 22 February 2022 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws ratifying agreements with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) recognizing them as independent states.

On 24 February 2022 President Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Sanctions were adopted against Russia further to these actions of Russia (please see our legal alerts on sanctions against Russia dated 24 and 28 February 2022).

This additional legal alert is mainly focused on the third round of sanctions adopted by the European Union (EU), the United States and the UK.

In addition to EU sanctions published on 28 February 2022, which are a part of the third round of EU sanctions against Russia and, which are described in our legal alert dated 28 February 2022 (i.e. restrictive measures on assets and international reserves of the Central Bank of Russia as well as prohibition of Russian flight and overflight in EU), such third round of sanctions includes personal blocking sanctions, economic and financial sanctions targeting Russian banking system.

EU also blocked a Russian news outlet Russia Today and its associated media (RT English, RT UK, RT Germany, RT France, RT Spanish, Sputnik). 1

Additionally, the United States banned Russian aircraft from the US airspace.

While other countries, particularly, USA and UK, confirmed their support for SWIFT-related sanctions, no official document has been published by them so far.

US MEASURES

1.US sanctions on RDIF

On 28 February 2022 the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added the following persons to the SDN list: 2

  • Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF);
  • Joint Stock Company Management Company Of The Russian Direct Investment Fund (MC RDIF);
  • Limited Liability Company RVC Management Company;
  • Kirill Aleksandrovich Dmitriev, the CEO of RDIF and MC RDIF.

These persons are now fully blocked. All property and interests in property of persons on the SDN List that are located in the United States or within the possession or control of a US person, wherever located, are blocked and may not be dealt in. Any entity in which one or more blocked persons owns in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater ownership interest is itself blocked. US persons may not engage in any dealings, directly or indirectly, with blocked persons or with any property in which blocked persons have any interest, absent an applicable license or exemption.

2. US issues directive targeting Russian Central Bank

On 28 February OFAC issued Directive 4 under E.O. 14024. 3 The directive prohibits transactions involving:

  • Central Bank of the Russian Federation;
  • the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation;
  • the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.

These three entities have been added to the OFAC’s non-SDN Menu-Based Sanctions List.

Directive 4 prohibits all transactions (unless otherwise provided by law, licensed, or authorized by OFAC) involving any of these three entities. Directive 4 does not extend to the property or interests in property of these entities so OFAC’s 50 Percent Rule does not apply.

The US also replaced and superseded General License 8 by issuing General License 8A, which adds the Central Bank of the Russian Federation to the list of entities subject to GL 8A’s authorization. 4 GL 8A authorizes (with conditions) transactions related to energy involving listed sanctioned entities until 24 June 2022.

EU MEASURES

1.Financial sanctions

On 1 March 2022 EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/346. 5

It provides for the following measures:

  • Starting from 12 March 2022 prohibition to provide specialized financial messaging services, which are used to exchange financial data, to the following legal persons, entities or bodies listed or to any legal person, entity or body established in Russia whose proprietary rights are directly or indirectly owned for more than 50 % by those entities:

+ Bank Otkrytie;

+ Novikombank;

+ Promsvyazbank;

+ Sovcombank;

+ Bank Rossiya;

+ VNESHECONOMBANK (VEB);

+ VTB BANK.

  • Prohibition to 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.

This ban will not apply to the sale, supply, transfer or export of euro denominated banknotes provided that such sale, supply, transfer or export is necessary for:

+ the personal use of natural persons travelling to Russia or members of their immediate families travelling with them; or

+ the official purposes of diplomatic missions, consular posts or international organizations in Russia enjoying immunities in accordance with international law.

  • Prohibition to invest, participate or otherwise contribute to projects co-financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

However, competent authorities can authorize an investment participation in, or contribution to, projects co-financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, after having determined that such an investment participation or contribution is due under contracts concluded before 2 March 2022 or ancillary contracts necessary for the execution of such contracts.

2. Blocking sanctions targeting individuals

On 28 February 2022 EU issued Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/337 providing a list of persons targeted by restrictive measures. 6 The list contains Russian billionaires, functionaries and journalists, including:

  • Igor Sechin;
  • Alisher Usmanov;
  • Petr Aven;
  • Mikhail Fridman;
  • Dmitry Peskov;
  • Gennady Timchenko.

Sanctions also currently target Gas Industry Insurance Company SOGAZ.

Sanctions provide for an asset freeze. Additionally, no funds or economic resources shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for their benefit.

UK MEASURES

1. Sanctions targeting Sberbank

On 1 March 2022 UK Treasury published a financial sanctions notice. 7

The notice established sanctions targeting Sberbank. They include prohibition on correspondent banking and sterling clearing.

2. Sanctions targeting RDIF

On 1 March 2022 UK also sanctioned the Russian Direct Investment Fund and its chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev.

Assets of those persons were frozen, and a travel ban was introduced. 8

We are actively following the developments related to those issues  and are fully prepared to advise our clients.

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