EU Chief Previews 11th Sanctions Package

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday detailed a new set of sanctions targeting Russia, as well as Chinese and Iranian firms, during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The 11th package of EU sanctions aims to counter evasion tactics that have allowed goods from the EU to reach Russia via third countries, despite previous trade restrictions.

The proposed sanctions have sparked contention among EU member states, some of whom argue the measures don't go far enough, while others express concern over potential harm to their international relationships. These divergent viewpoints suggest that reaching a quick consensus may be challenging.

"If we see that goods are going from the European Union to third countries and then end up in Russia, we could propose to the member states to sanction those goods' export," von der Leyen said. She indicated this tool would be a last resort and used cautiously.

Alongside the sanctions, the EU is set to halt the transit of more of its exports, including advanced tech products and aircraft parts, via Russia. Additionally, the package includes a plan to blacklist dozens of new companies from China, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, according to diplomatic sources privy to the proposal.

Von der Leyen confirmed the EU's commitment to supporting Ukraine, with the bloc pledging €18 billion ($20.7 billion) in financial aid for 2023, of which €6 billion ($6.9 billion) has already been disbursed. The EU also outlined a roadmap for Ukraine's potential EU membership, detailing seven steps for the country to take before the Commission recommends launching accession negotiations.

However, the proposal to target third countries is set to incite heated debate among EU member states. This would be the first time the bloc has targeted China over accusations of its role in the war, a move that China's foreign ministry has already cautioned the EU against.