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Media: Austria posing obstacle to EU's 12th Russian sanctions package

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 13, 2023 8:26 PM 2 min read
A flag of Austria is seen in Warsaw, Poland on Sept. 13, 2022. (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Austria currently has reservations about the 12th package of EU sanctions against Russia, preventing the package from being officially approved, EU officials reportedly told the Austrian Press Agency on Dec. 13.

EU ambassadors originally aimed to have the package ready to present to European leaders during the EU Council Summit on Dec. 14-15. Sanctions packages require a unanimous vote by EU member states in order to pass.

The package is expected to target the export of dual-use technologies, ban the trade of Russian diamonds, and contain additional measures to combat the circumvention of Russian oil being traded above the $60 per barrel price cap.

According to reports, while Austria has not vetoed the package, it wants a final legal examination of the package before giving its approval.

Rikard Jozwiak, the Europe editor of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, said on Dec. 12 that negotiations on the package had stalled due to Austria's complaints that the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is included on Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) list of international sponsors of war.

Despite the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, RBI has continued to operate in Russia. The bank has long-standing ties with Russia and is only one of only two foreign banks classified as "systemically important" by the Russian central bank.

Czechia opened an investigation of RBI in August over its ongoing business activities in Russia, after the Czech Association for the Rights of Citizens and Entrepreneurs highlighted that Raiffeisen's Russia-based companies had paid up to $720 million from their profits to the Russian state budget in taxes.

The European Central Bank (ECB) urged Raiffeisen on March 24 to devise an exit strategy for selling or shutting down the group's Russia branch of operations.

The bank responded to the criticism by saying that it is reducing its business activity in the country, minimizing "the RBI Group's cross-border exposure to Russia," and exploring ways of selling or spinning off its Russian branch, but no further updates have been provided.

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