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Policy brief

Making Sanctions Work in the European Energy Sector

Policy Brief No.135

The energy crisis in Europe, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has demonstrated the need for the EU to develop and implement a coherent policy vision for the di­versification of energy supply and the decarbonisation of its economy, in line with the changing economic security risks and priorities. Since the Russian invasion, the EU has adopted 10 rounds of sanctions including a ban on the import of coal, crude oil, and oil derivatives with the aim of undermining the capability of the Kremlin’s oligarchic networks to fuel its war machine in Ukraine and beyond. However, the current sanctions do not seem to achieve the longer-term objective of strategic decou­pling from Russia.

This policy brief dissects the sanctions regime in the energy sector and exposes the key loopholes that allow Russia to continue exporting energy, including oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear fuel. The analysis reveals why and how the EU should strengthen sanctions enforcement and consider expanding the scope of sanctions. Decoupling from Russia would not be possible without also targeting the state capture networks that have enabled strategic partnerships between Russian and European energy companies.


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