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EU bans champagne, luxury car, apparel exports to Russia

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The EU on Tuesday banned exports of champagne, high-end cars, fashion apparel, expensive electronics and sports gear to Russia as part of a new round of sanctions on Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

The 29-page list of now-prohibited luxury items was published in the European Union’s Official Journal, which announces legal decisions by the 27-nation bloc, giving detail to broad sanctions outlines announced last week by EU leaders.

The published EU sanctions package adds 15 individuals — including oligarchs Roman Abramovich and German Khan, as well as people deemed “propagandists” for Russia — and nine key companies in Russia’s aviation, military, shipbuilding and  machine-building sectors.

Also banned were investments in and assistance to Russia’s energy sector and imports from Russia of finished steel. Credit rating agencies were also barred from evaluating Russian institutions and companies.

The ban on luxury exports from the EU to Russia was an effort “trying to target the elite, the oligarchs” in Russia, an EU official told journalists on condition of not being identified.

He said that total EU luxury sales to Russia were worth €3.5 bln per year — less than five percent of the value of global exports from the bloc — but cautioned that thresholds applied, so not all of that would dry up.

“We only want to target those products that will be luxury goods… so that we do not hit the ordinary Russian that wants to purchase home appliances or other cars which are of less value,” another EU official said.

Thus, the export ban would apply to cars worth over 50,000 euros, electronic items such as home appliances worth over 750 euros, cameras and sound recording equipment over 1,000 euros and musical instruments over 1,500 euros.

Also banned were exports of artworks, antiques, jewellery including diamonds and pearls, watches and clocks, lead crystal items, porcelain tableware and precious cutlery, as well as quality or fashion clothing and sporting equipment such as ski boots and riding saddles.

An EU official said such export prohibitions have already been imposed against “a number of rogue states like North Korea”.

He said: “What that does is it takes away a source of comfort for the elites that support government action by Russia in Ukraine and have the financial resources to enjoy the lifestyle associated with the consumption of the EU-origin luxury goods.”

© Agence France-Presse