Russia Sanctions:  There were limited developments this week.  There has been speculation that the EU would release its sixth round of sanctions against Russia, but no updates have been reported thus far.  The new package of sanctions is still expected soon.  The U.S. and UK also did not expand their list of designations this week.  However, the UK published amendments for nearly 200 previously-designated individuals that remain subject to an asset freeze.  The amendments were limited to revising reported dates of birth, addresses, and additional information regarding the basis of the designation.

General Licenses and Clarifications:  The UK published a general license that allows transactions with Sberbank CIB (UK) Ltd, or any entity it owns or controls in the UK for the UK subsidiary, to make payments for (i) basic needs, fees; (ii) service charges from holding and maintenance of funds; and (iii) the provision of legal services.

The UK issued separate a general license that permits officers of (i) the Financial Conduct Authority and (ii) any other organization authorized by Her Majesty’s Treasury to carry out any action necessary to comply with a UK court order, a forfeiture notice, or external orders.  The general license also permits activities for asset recovery purposes.

This week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen clarified during a press conference that paying for Russian gas in rubles is a breach of EU sanctions.  “To pay in rubles – if this is not foreseen in the contract – is a breach of our sanctions…Companies with such contracts should not accede to the Russian demands.  This would be a breach of the sanctions, so a high risk for the companies.”  This statement came after Russia suspended gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria after they refused to pay with rubles.

EU Proposal to Suspend All Duties on Imports from Ukraine

The EU announced a proposal to suspend import duties on all Ukrainian goods for one year.  This would also apply to all anti-dumping and safeguard measures on Ukrainian steel.  The proposal must still be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.