Europe seeks to punish Putin's infowar pals with bans on Russian tech firms

Also slaps Chinese backdoor entities shipping forbidden tech to Moscow

The European Union has announced an eleventh package of sanctions against Russia for its illegal actions against Ukraine – and this time it's tried to tackle Moscow's key IT providers and entities established to evade export bans.

The IT firms Europe wants to harm work with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and/or Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade and hold clearances that make them privy to state secrets or permitted to work on weapons and other military equipment. A new criterion for existing sanctions means those companies can be cut off from the global financial system and otherwise made persona non grata for commercial and public entities with ties to the EU.

IT companies have been added to Europe's naughty list after the Council of Europe "assessed that information warfare constitutes a key means by which Russia implements its war of aggression against Ukraine and commits gross violations of international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

cyrillic keyboard

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The eleventh round of sanctions also tries to stop tech reaching Russia.

As The Register has previously reported, US authorities plan to crack down on "evasion routes" that see sanctioned tech shipped to Russia through third nations – estimates suggest over $2 billion of contraband kit has reached the pariah state.

Europe appears to have similar worries as the latest round of sanctions includes an enhanced anti-circumvention that "will allow the EU to restrict the sale, supply, transfer or export of specified sanctioned goods and technology to certain third countries whose jurisdictions are considered to be at continued and particularly high risk of circumvention."

The EU plans for this measure to be "an exceptional and last resort measure when other individual measures and outreach by the EU to concerned third countries have been insufficient to prevent circumvention."

To set the ball rolling, the revised sanctions name 87 entities of concern – located in China, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, Syria and Armenia – added to naughty lists previously populated only by Russian and Iranian organizations.

The fresh round of sanctions also identifies 15 more dual technologies that have been found on the battlefield in Ukraine, and prohibits their export to Russia. Switzerland has signed up to assist that effort.

Exports of all electric and hybrid vehicles have also been banned, as have all cars with engines of 1900cm³or larger.

The EU's announcement of fresh sanctions proclaims previous restrictions "have limited Moscow's political and economic options considerably, by causing major financial strain, degrading Russia's industrial and technological capacity."

That assessment came before the extraordinary events of the last 72 hours – in which a mercenary force that does much of Moscow's frontline fighting advanced on the capital and shot at Russian aircraft, but then retreated.

The fresh round of sanctions may therefore be the least of Vladimir Putin's worries as the week opens – but also a symbol of why he has those worries. ®

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