EU adds 14 more Russian business chiefs to its sanctions list

The EU added 14 more Russian business people with close links to the Kremlin and 146 lawmakers to its sanctions list on Wednesday, in measures approved in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The new measures target executives at some of Russia’s largest companies outside the banking and oil and gas industries, including the billionaire owners of large coal and fertiliser producers, and the chief executive of national airline Aeroflot, according to legal documents seen by the Financial Times and published in the EU’s official journal.

They focus on leading figures at companies that the EU said were “providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation”. The bloc also extended its restrictive measures to Belarus’s financial sector.

The measures, which include travel bans and asset freezes, add to Ukraine-related sanctions already implemented by the EU, which include disconnecting seven Russian banks from the Swift global messaging network, a ban on foreign currency transactions by the country’s central bank and barring Russian planes from the bloc’s airspace.

Almost all of the new executives targeted attended a partly televised meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on the first day of the invasion, which the EU said was proof that each individual was “a member of the closest circle of” the Russian president.

Mikhail Poluboyarinov, chief executive of Russia’s national airline Aeroflot, has been added to the list, along with coal oligarch Andrey Melnichenko — estimated by Forbes last year as Russia’s eighth-richest man — and Dmitry Pumpyansky, the billionaire owner of TMK, a company that manufactures oil and gas pipelines.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, left, with Aeroflot chief Mikhail Poluboyarinov at the Kremlin last year © Alexei Druzhinin/TASS/Getty

Andrei Guryev, chief executive of PhosAgro — Europe’s largest producer of phosphate-based fertilisers — was also named on the list, alongside Dmitry Mazepin, the majority shareholder of rival fertiliser company Uralchem.

Mazepin’s son Nikita — who until his recent sacking following Russia’s invasion was a Formula 1 driver for the Haas team, sponsored by his father’s company — was another name on the list.

Brussels is also targeting Russia’s digital sector. Among those facing sanctions are Mikhail Oseevsky, president of Russia’s state telecommunications company Rostelecom, and Vladimir Kirienko, chief executive of VK, which controls the three largest Russian social networking portals. Vadim Moshkovich, the billionaire owner of food and agriculture conglomerate Rusagro, is another named on the sanctions list.

The EU has also placed sanctions on Dmitry Konov, chief executive of Russia’s largest petrochemical producer Sibur, and 146 members of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, who voted to recognise the Kremlin-backed separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine as independent — a move that gave Putin a premise to order the invasion.

The bloc is spelling out that existing sanctions on companies, banks and individuals extend to cryptocurrencies. Trade in digital assets has been booming in recent weeks, raising concerns among central bankers that they could be used to circumvent the sanctions regime.

The financial restrictions imposed last month on Russian banks and its central bank have also been expanded to Belarus, given its involvement in the military offensive against Ukraine.

The three Belarusian banks that will be eliminated from the Swift messaging system are Belagroprombank, the fourth-largest bank in Belarus in terms of revenue, state-owned lender Bank Dabrabyt and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.

The bloc is banning any trade with the Central Bank of Belarus, with the exception of certain transactions that are “necessary to ensure the financial stability of the [EU] or of member states”, according to acts to be published in the official journal. Companies with more than a 50 per cent stake held by the Belarus state will be banned from EU trading venues as of April 12.

The bloc also bans any public financing to Belarus, with the exception of projects benefiting EU small and medium-sized enterprises, financial assistance for food trade and for agricultural, medical or humanitarian purposes.

As is already the case with Russian nationals, Belarusian individuals and companies will be banned from making deposits in EU banks above €100,000, with certain exceptions. The sale, supply, transfer or export of euro banknotes to Belarus or any individual or company in Belarus, as well as the central bank and its government, is also prohibited.