EU's 12th Sanctions Package against Russia

Key Developments in the Shipping Sector

Following the enactment of the 10th and 11th sanctions packages against Russia, there has been a notable expansion of export restrictions covering industrial, high-tech and aviation goods. Simultaneously, imports of Russian bitumen, related materials, synthetic rubber and carbon are now subjected to bans. The implementation of these sanction packages has continued to strengthen the enforcement of EU sanctions against Russia. 
12th Sanctions packed announced 
Recently, the European Union has announced its 12th sanctions package against Russia. Introduced on December 19, 2023, these set of sanctions are strategically, designed to escalate economic pressure in response to Russia's ongoing aggression towards Ukraine. The modifications to Regulation (EU) 833/2014 can be reviewed in Regulation (EU) 2023/2878, while Regulation (EU) 269/2014 has undergone minor changes through Regulation (EU) 2023/2873. Additionally, Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2875 has expanded the EU sanctions list by including over 140 additional individuals and entities.

This latest sanctions package introduces more restrictive measures in the energy sector. Notably, the G7 oil price cap against Russia has been strengthened, accompanied by heightened scrutiny of tanker sales to third countries and more detailed attestation requirements. These measures aim to address the use of a 'shadow fleet' by Russia to bypass the price cap. Specifically, individuals or entities within the EU are prohibited from directly or indirectly selling tankers for transporting crude oil or petroleum products to Russia or for use in Russia. This prohibition applies irrespective of whether the tanker originates from within the Union.

Situation in Malta
Competent authorities, such as Transport Malta for Malta, now also have the authority to grant authorisation for the transfer of ownership of tankers for crude oil or petroleum product transport. Authorisation will not be granted if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the tanker will be used for transporting such products from Russia at a purchase price per barrel exceeding the specified directive. Furthermore, any transfer of ownership from an EU-based natural or legal person to a third country must be immediately reported to the competent authorities of the Member State where the tanker owner is a citizen, resident, or is established. The notification should include essential information such as the identities of the seller and purchaser, incorporation documents, shareholding and management details, IMO ship identification number, and Call Sign. For transactions occurring between December 5, 2022, and December 19, 2023, notifications to competent authorities must be made before February 20, 2024. Member States and the European Commission are to be promptly informed of any notifications or authorisations granted within two weeks of the respective authorisation or notification. 

This comprehensive sanctions package reflects the EU’s commitment to ensure a robust framework discouraging activities that undermine international stability. Companies and stakeholders should carefully adhere to these regulations, recognising the implications for their operations and compliance responsibilities. 

Written by Dr. Gregory Mifsud Orlando, Junior Lawyer and Dr. Claudia Borg, Lawyer.
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