EU to consider tougher Russia sanctions: The banks, oligarchs and tech firms at risk

Russia's top brass warned over Ukrainian massacre

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Investigators and journalists have found what appears to be evidence of the deliberate killing of civilians in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, and other nearby areas. Russia withdrew its forces from the region so that it can focus on “liberating” the Donbas area, in eastern Ukraine.

On Tuesday, EU finance ministers met in Luxembourg to debate how they can apply further pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war efforts.

Measures which they could look to employ include:

  • Greater restrictions on high-tech exports
  • Tougher sanctions on Russia’s elite and individuals deemed close to the Kremlin
  • Further sanctions on four Russian banks which have been disconnected from the SWIFT international payments network, but which the EU has not separately sanctioned thus far

What sanctions have the EU imposed?

One of the first measures the EU introduced was a ban on Russian aircraft from flying in its airspace.

The bloc has joined the UK and US in placing sanctions against more than 1,000 Russian individuals and businesses altogether.

A commitment has also been made by the EU to become energy independent from Russia “well before 2030” – it currently gets a quarter of its oil and 40 percent of its gas from Moscow.

Why is the EU looking to increase its sanctions?

In recent days Ukrainian forces have said they’ve found mass graves of civilians in areas in and around the capital Kyiv, which Russian forces had previously occupied.

Evidence has also been discovered of civilians having been shot dead after their feet and hands were bound.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the attacks are “yet more evidence” of war crimes.

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Moscow has also previously been accused of using cluster munitions during its invasion of Ukraine, with evidence mounting of such bombs being used in Kharkiv.

The UK has said Russia has used thermobaric explosives, which create a massive vacuum by sucking up oxygen.

Typically, they produce a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than that of a conventional explosive and are capable of vaporising human bodies.

While these are not banned outright, their deliberate use near civilians would almost certainly break the rules of war.

What is a war crime?

Under the Geneva Conventions and several other international laws and agreements, civilians cannot be deliberately attacked.

The infrastructure which they live in can also not be intentionally destroyed.

Certain weapons – such as chemical or biological weapons – are banned because of the indiscriminate or appalling suffering they cause.

The sick and wounded must be cared for, including injured soldiers who have rights as prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, serious offences such as murder, rape or mass persecution of a group are known as “crimes against humanity”.

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