EU unclear on Russian cloud services ban amid Ukraine invasion, changes latest sanctions package

The European Union is working on a possible ban on the provision of cloud services to Russia as part of new sanctions against the Kremlin for invading Ukraine, an EU official told Reuters on Wednesday, noting that the measurement was technically complex.

If introduced, it’s unclear how the EU ban would affect Russia, as the major cloud providers in Europe are American companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

The European Union adopted a new sanctions package against Russia and Belarus last week, which included an oil embargo, restrictive measures on Russian banks and a ban on providing consulting services to Moscow.

An early version of a press release on the sanctions package issued by the Council of the EU on June 3 also referred to a ban on the provision of cloud services, but was later amended to remove this reference. This sanction would not appear in the legal texts published in the Official Journal of the EU.

A Council press officer said the initial mention of the cloud services sanction was “a clerical error” and declined to say whether it could have been caused by a debate on the issue between EU states.

An EU official familiar with sanctions decisions said the measure on cloud services was never proposed by the European Commission, but added that the EU was working on introducing the ban in possible future rounds of sanctions, although this is technically difficult.

In a tweet on Tuesday, adviser to the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak said the EU Council’s drafting of the press statement was done without giving a clear explanation and that it suggested a possible easing of sanctions.

“We need to increase the sanctions pressure, not decrease it,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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