uA serious dispute has broken out among the EU countries over the planned 9th sanctions package against Russia. This concerns exceptions for the export of fertilizers and foodstuffs. Under German leadership, a majority of member states pushed for a special provision that would allow national authorities to exempt six Russian oligarchs from sanctions, specifically allowing them to export grain and fertilizer to third countries.
Poland and Lithuania vetoed this exception on Thursday morning. The proposed exception opens “a big loophole” and enables oligarchs “to increase their prosperity, which contributes to the Russian war budget,” argued Lithuania, according to a brief available to the FAZ. “We would only reinforce Russian propaganda that our sanctions are to blame for the global food crisis.”
On the other hand, Germany and other countries point out that the UN Secretary-General expressly asked the EU states for exceptions because several African states are dependent on the deliveries. Because of the sanctions, transports have been stopped in five countries in the past few months, including Belgium and the Netherlands.
The authorities pointed out that the sanctions provisions of the EU exclude any business dealings with listed persons and organizations. Officially, the EU has always maintained that food and fertilizers are exempt from sanctions. However, this only applies to sectoral sanctions. In fact, the Russian export of fertilizers via EU countries was completely stopped by the individual listings.
The six oligarchs affected include the Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Mazepin. Until March, he was the majority owner of the Uralchem company he founded. After being listed for his proximity to the Kremlin, he reduced his stake to 48 percent and resigned as CEO. Nevertheless, even “humanitarian deliveries” to African countries are no longer possible via EU ports, he complained this week in the “Financial Times”. On Thursday it was uncertain how the conflict between the member states could be resolved. A meeting of the EU ambassadors should take place in the evening.
They have already been able to solve one blockage: Poland withdrew its veto against the so-called Hungary package. As recently as this morning, Warsaw had refused to agree to the introduction of a minimum tax on large global companies. “It’s a kind of blackmail from some countries,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki when he arrived in Brussels. These tried to combine completely different topics such as financial support for Ukraine in the war against Russia and the international minimum tax. Later he gave in. This means that 6.3 billion euros from the EU budget can now also be frozen for Hungary.