The European Union's top court has upheld restrictive measures adopted by the 27-nation bloc against Russian oil and gas companies in connection with Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice announced on September 17 that it had upheld a judgment by a lower EU court dismissing an action against the sanctions slapped on companies that are part of state oil giant Rosneft, saying the measures "have been duly justified and are suitable for putting pressure on Russia because of its role" in the Ukraine crisis.
Beginning in July 2014, the European Council adopted restrictive measures on the Russian bank and energy sectors in Russia in response to its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its support for separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Those measures include prohibitions on the export of certain products and technologies to the oil and gas sector and restrictions on the access of certain operators in that sector to the EU capital market.
A number of Russian companies that are part of Rosneft had brought the action before the General Court and asked for the annulment of the measures.
The General Court dismissed that action in September 2018, prompting the companies to appeal further to the Court of Justice.
The September 17 ruling noted that the court "dismisses the companies' appeal in its entirety."
The judges said the companies in question “could not reasonably have been unaware of the reasons why the targeted restrictions at issue were imposed on them” and that both the export prohibitions and the restrictions on access to the EU capital market “clearly contribute” to achieving the objective pursued by the European Council: increasing the costs of the Russian actions against Ukraine’s sovereignty and promoting a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
The decision is also in line with two key international agreements: the 1994 EU-Russian Partnership Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, they said.
The European Council welcomed the ruling, saying it “demonstrated the legitimacy, legal robustness, and strength of the EU’s sanctions in place for Russia’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine.”
"The sanctions in place are a key element of the EU's efforts to bring a solution to the crisis in Ukraine that respects its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence,” spokesman Peter Stano said.