EU eyes oil price cap, more curbs on high-tech exports in new Russia sanctions, diplomats say

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
  • EU readies new sanctions on Russia after Putin's bellicose speech
  • Oil cap, high-tech export curbs, more blacklistings seen
  • Fragile EU unity needed for new sanctions
  • EU leaders to meet in Prague on Oct. 6-7

BRUSSELS, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The European Union is looking at an oil price cap, tighter curbs on high-tech exports to Russia and more sanctions against individuals, diplomats said on Thursday, in response to what the West condemned as a new escalation in Moscow's war in Ukraine.

The 27-nation EU was spurred into action by President Vladimir Putin's nuclear rhetoric on Wednesday, announcement of a partial mobilisation for the war and support for plans to effectively annex parts of east Ukraine. read more

EU foreign ministers agreed at an ad hoc meeting on the sidelines of U.N. talks in New York to prepare new sanctions against Russia, and the bloc's top diplomat said they would consist of "economic and individual" measures.

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The head of the EU executive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said they would include "additional export controls on civilian technology", according to comments carried by CNN.

Three EU diplomats in Brussels said new sanctions would centre around an oil price cap to match that agreed by the G7 most industrialised global powers - a gathering where EU states France, Germany and Italy also sit.

"We also fully expect more individual listings," said one of the diplomats, who all spoke under condition of anonymity.

The person added the oil cap should take effect from December, along with the EU's embargo on Russian coal, while tighter export restrictions for high-tech products are meant to hamstring Russia's battlefield capabilities.

Further curbs on luxury goods exports to Russia were also on the table. The bloc's Russia hawks like Poland and the Baltic countries sought a ban on Russian diamond imports and moving to confiscate Russian assets frozen in Europe.

Others, however, warned the latter was unlikely to get the unanimous backing of all EU countries necessary to introduce sanctions.

Germany, the EU's economic powerhouse, has so far barred tougher economic restrictions, while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban - who cultivates close ties with Putin - said on Thursday all the sanctions should be scrapped. read more

"I don't know how rapidly we can agree on new sanctions," said an EU official, noting resistance to more punishment of Moscow by some member states could slow things down.

The European Commission is expected to present next week a written proposal, and the 27 EU national leaders might approve it when they meet in Prague on Oct.6-7, said the sources.

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Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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