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The EU plans to target Iran's Revolutionary Guards in new raft of sanctions against Russia

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 9, 2023.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 9, 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
Copyright AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
By Jorge Liboreiro
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The EU wants to approve the 10th package of sanctions by the time the Ukraine war marks its one-year anniversary on 24 February.

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The 10th package of European Union sanctions against Russia will ban exports of critical industrial goods worth €11 billion, blacklist propagandists and, for the first time ever, target entities linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps for aiding the Kremlin to wage war on Ukraine.

"Putin is not only waging a brutal war on the battlefield but he is also viciously targeting civilians," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said while announcing the proposal on Wednesday morning.

"The aggressor has to pay."

It comes as NATO warns that a major new Russian offensive is already underway in eastern Ukraine, with the city of Bakhmut enduring relentless artillery fire.

The Commission's proposed exports ban will cover electronics, specialised vehicles, spare parts for trucks and jet engines, as well as construction tools, such as antennas and cranes, that might be redirected to the war, von der Leyen explained.

The bloc believes Russia will not be able to obtain these essential Western-made products from other suppliers like China and the army will eventually suffer from crippling shortages.

New restrictions will be placed on a total of 47 new electronic components, as well as rare earth materials and thermal cameras, that can be employed to build Russian weapons.

In a first, the EU will add seven entities linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards to the existing sanctions on dual-use goods, those that can be employed for both civilian and military purposes.

Several reports have found Western components in the Iranian-made "kamikaze drones" that Russia has used to destroy Ukraine's essential infrastructure and plunge the war-torn country into darkness.

The findings caused alarm and threw into question the effectiveness of a long-standing sanctions regime on Iran imposed by the United Nations.

"This should act as a strong deterrent to other companies and international traders," von der Leyen said.

The package will now have to be discussed and approved by member states through a unanimity vote, with the aim to have it in place by the time the war marks its one-year anniversary on 24 February.

Once adopted, the EU will have banned "all tech products found on the battlefield," von der Leyen said.

The new raft of penalties will also have a marked focus on closing up loopholes to crack down on circumvention by oligarchs and identify the location and exact value of the assets owned by the Russian Central Bank.

The EU intends to invest the bank's frozen assets which are protected from confiscation under international law, and funnel the proceedings into Ukraine's reconstruction, but the unprecedented plan faces a myriad of legal obstacles.

The efforts to curb circumvention will be done in coordination with the G7 and other international partners, von der Leyen said.

"Together, we are tightening the screws on Russia more and more."

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