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Statement by Commissioner McGuinness on the outcomes of the fourth meeting of the High-Level Meeting on sanctions implementation

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Today, Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, responsible for sanctions implementation, chaired the fourth meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Union Restrictive Measures.

Almost two years since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, sanctions remain at the core of the EU’s response to this unprovoked military aggression. Following the adoption of twelve far-reaching sanctions packages against Russia, the meeting focused on the enforcement of sanctions, in particular, circumvention of EU sanctions via third countries. High-level representatives from Member States, alongside the Commission and the External Action Service, came together to discuss the challenges, share data, and identify solutions.

In the afternoon, the EU Sanctions Envoy, David O’Sullivan, convened the third Sanctions Coordinators Forum, equally dedicated to fighting circumvention, gathering Member States and EU’s international partners and allies.

Following the meeting, Commissioner McGuinness said:

Two years since Russia invaded Ukraine and Europe remains united and determined to continue defending its values and its founding principles. That was a sentiment shared by all participants attending the fourth High Level Meeting, today.

Russia is making every effort to try and find ways around our sanctions. Sanctions must be implemented in full.

Our discussions today, confirmed our determination to stop Russia from acquiring Western sensitive technology for its military. Tackling possible circumvention attempts, including via countries outside the EU is A key priority. We are dedicating significant efforts to this – from legislative changes targeting those who facilitate circumvention, through criminalising the violation and circumvention of sanctions, to closely monitoring suspicious trade flows, and organising dedicated outreach.

The Commission and Member States agreed that any remaining loopholes must be closed, and those who breach sanctions must be held accountable.

We will continue supporting our Member States, to ensure effective enforcement of the measures, and to working closely with third countries to prevent circumvention.

It was agreed that we will take stock of the concrete action taken to curb the flow of Western technology to Russian.

In parallel, over the last two years we have stepped up the dialogue with our allies to an unprecedented level. This is reflected in our determination to align both our listings and our sectoral restrictions.

This afternoon I opened the Sanctions Coordinators Forum also dedicated to fighting circumvention. The Forum was convened by EU Sanctions Envoy David O’Sullivan and gathered our like-minded partners – the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Lichtenstein, Norway, Republic of Korea and Switzerland. As always, our Ukrainian colleagues joined for a dedicated session. One thing is clear – our collective resolve spanning across different stages of sanctions lifecycle remains unwavering”.

Statement on the third Sanctions Coordinators Forum

Sanctions adopted following Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine

Sanctions (restrictive measures)

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