Oligarch linked to Aughinish Alumina set to be sanctioned by EU

Oleg Deripaska could be subject to asset freezes

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who is a major shareholder in Aughinish Alumina in Limerick through his company Rusal, is on a list of individuals under consideration by the European Union to be sanctioned in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Diplomats were in talks to agree the final list on Wednesday, in a fresh push to harden measures against Russia in response to evidence of atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians that emerged over the weekend.

The name of Mr Deripaska is under consideration along with other tycoons, believed to include Sberbank chief executive Herman Gref, e-commerce chief Alexander Shulgin, close business associate of President Vladimir Putin Boris Rotenberg, and gold magnate Said Kerimov. Mr Putin's daughters Ekaterina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova are also understood to be on the draft list.

The Irish government has been keen to protect the role of Aughinish Alumina as a major employer in the Limerick region, and it was unclear how the potential sanctioning of Mr Deripaska could affect the plant.


Final List

The final list is still subject to agreement by the 27 EU countries and could change before it is finalised. Mr Deripaska has already been sanctioned by the United States and the UK.

Evidence of apparent executions of Ukrainian civilians in areas occupied by Russian forces have galvanised a drive for international sanctions against Russia to be hardened.

Washington has announced it will unveil new measures in coordination with the G7 major economies and the EU to hit financial institutions and state-owned enterprises and increase Russia’s “economic, financial and technological isolation” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

The EU is expected to ban coal imports from Russia, a trade worth €4 billion annually, and bar transactions with four key Russian banks.

Some Russian vessels would be barred from accessing EU ports under the proposals, which would also hit Russian and Belarussian road transport operators, ad bar imports from Russia of key goods including cement, seafood, and liquor. Russian companies would also be barred from tendering for EU public procurement contracts.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the EU was prepared to go further, potentially hitting Russian oil as well, a key demand of countries that want to harden the measures.

“These sanctions will not be our last sanctions,” she told the European Parliament. “Yes, we have now banned coal. But now, we have to look into oil, and we will have to look into the revenues that Russia gets from the fossil fuels.”

She suggested that the EU could take a share of fossil fuel revenues into a “escrow account” to “limit the source of revenues of Russia from fossil fuels”.

Proposals to cut EU gas imports from Russia, worth an average of between €200 million and €800 million daily since the start of the year, have hit a wall because a group of EU countries are reliant on the energy source and are concerned about the economic impact and potential for political instability if sanctions cause too much domestic disruption.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times