The 27-member European Union officially banned operations involving reserves and assets of the Central Bank of Russia on Monday, with the exception of deals that are absolutely vital for individual member states or the bloc as a whole. The ban is part of the sanctions slapped on Moscow in response to its military operation in Ukraine launched last week.
“The competent authorities may authorize a transaction provided that it is strictly necessary to ensure the financial stability of the union as a whole or of the member state concerned,” the EU wrote in the regulation published in its official journal.
In the ruling, Brussels also closed off much of Europe’s airspace to Russian passenger carriers.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the bloc will cut several Russian banks off from the SWIFT global money transfer system, and ban RT and Sputnik News from broadcasting in the EU.
Many countries, including the US and Britain, imposed sweeping restrictions on Russia shortly after its troops began striking targets on Ukrainian territory early Thursday morning. Moscow said it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke off from Ukraine following the 2014 coup in Kiev. Ukraine said the attack was entirely unprovoked and appealed to the international community for help.
With reports of fighting near Kiev and elsewhere in the country, Ukraine has agreed to talks with Russia. The negotiations are expected to begin somewhere close to the Ukrainian-Belarusian border on Monday morning.