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EU sanctions Russian gold as part of new bans

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 17, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The European Union imposed a new round of sanctions against Moscow on Thursday that includes a ban on Russian gold imports.

“We are effectively banning Russia’s most significant export after energy – Russian gold,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

The bloc also tightened export controls on some high-technology goods, and ratcheted up its pressure on sanctioned Russian individuals, forcing them “to officially declare where they have assets in the EU so the holdings can be frozen,” the AP reported.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, said the “reinforced, prolonged EU sanctions against the Kremlin” send “a strong signal to Moscow: We will keep the pressure high for as long as it takes.”

So far, however, the EU has stopped short of imposing any sanctions on Russian gas imports, given the bloc’s heavy dependence on it.

Meanwhile, Russia said the latest round of sanctions is illegitimate, warning that it would have devastating consequences for various segments of the global economy and security.

"The European Union is continuing to drive itself into a dead end with enviable persistence," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

"The devastating consequences of EU sanctions on various segments of the global economy and security ... are becoming increasingly obvious," she said.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special military operation” in Ukraine to demilitarize and “de-Nazify” the ex-Soviet country and to “liberate” Donbas, composed of two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Two days prior to the war, Moscow had officially recognized the two regions as independent republics. Luhansk has already fallen under the full control of Russian forces.

Since the onset of the operation, the United States and its European allies have supplied billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to Ukraine and imposed waves of unprecedented sanctions on Moscow, despite Russia’s repeated warning that the arms influx and the coercive economic measures will only prolong the war.

Also on Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the sanctions by the West cannot force Moscow to change course.

‘US won’t talk with Russia over Ukraine’

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said there had been no contact with the United States over peace talks with Ukraine.

"The American administration forbids its team in Kiev to even think about talks with us, and evidently forces them to fight to the last Ukrainian," Zakharova told reporters.

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have been frozen since early April, when ceasefire talks brokered by Turkey in Istanbul collapsed.

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