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EU Court Rejects Russian Challenge To Sanctions Over Ukraine Energy Crisis

The General Court of the European Union upheld sanctions imposed on several Russian oil companies and banks after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis, Reuters reports, citing a statement by the court.

“The General Court of the EU upholds restrictive measures adopted by the Council against a number of Russian banks and oil and gas companies in connection with the crisis in Ukraine,” the statement read.

The EU initially imposed sanctions on Russian energy companies and banks, including Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Sberbank, VTB Bank, after Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula after a referendum in early 2014. Later, the EU tightened the punitive measures after Russia offered military support for anti-government rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Last month, the UK tried to convince the EU to add more sanctions against Russia, using the argument that the EU should stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States. The United States approved more sanctions against Russia earlier that month. Current EU sanctions against Moscow are set to expire at the beginning of next year.

While the EU seems to be united in its stance on Crimea, Ukraine, and the sanctions, Italy’s Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, recently said, speaking to Russian media, that “the sanctions against Russia do not have any economic, political, social or cultural sense.”

While the topic of whether sanctions make or do not make sense, a report from a research body, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research, last year said that the EU has suffered losses because of the sanctions, since Russia retaliated by cutting EU imports.

Between 2014 and 2016, European exports to the former Soviet bloc as a whole have fallen by some 5.7 percent annually, and about 40 percent of the fall was due to the sanctions, the institute said.

Russian oil companies, however, have thrived, benefiting from a cheaper ruble—also resulting, to a significant extent, from the sanctions—and higher international oil prices.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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