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Politico: Italy-Poland clash over rubber threatened to reject 10th EU sanctions package against Russia

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The European Union reached an agreement on sanctions against Russia at the last minute, after Italy clashed with Poland over a limit on imports of synthetic rubber from Russia, Politico wrote on Saturday.

Both Italyand Poland – according to Politico – dug in on the rubber issue, with Poland arguing that the proposed import quotas from Russia synthetic rubber are too high and Italy argued that they are not. As EU diplomats told Politico, Germany also initially questioned the quotas but were ready to agree to them provided there was a sufficient transitional period. And Italy won, at least as far as rubber is concerned, writes Politico.

The European Commission will launch a monitoring mechanism

The quota for synthetic rubber will remain at the proposed level of approximately 560,000 tonnes until the end of the transitional period at the end of June 2024. However, to reassure Poland, European Commission will activate the monitoring mechanism and report the influx of this product from Russia on a monthly basis. In the event of irregularities, it may establish restrictive measures. “We are very dissatisfied with this,” the Polish ambassador to the EU, Andrzej Sados, told Politico. “But we don’t want to block the whole package because of synthetic rubber,” he added. Warsaw, however, does not believe that it has lost this fight, writes Politico. In exchange for relenting, the EU introduced other sanctions that the Polish government had called for, Sadoś reported. For example, the Commission has promised to extend the sanctioning of persons or entities that are involved in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. – It was our highest priority – added Sadoś.

“Saying Poland benefits from the war is unacceptable”

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Speculation about the motives of the two sides increased in the hours leading up to the agreement on the adoption of the new sanctions package. A senior EU diplomat said Italy’s resistance to lower rubber quotas stemmed from “big business interests” such as influence over tire giant Pirelli, as well as domestic policy considerations. The right-wing coalition of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is divided over its attitude towards Russia. Warsaw, meanwhile, found itself in a similar crossfire, according to Politico. It is about the Polish rubber industry. A diplomat from another EU country attributed Warsaw’s earlier refusal to agree to the package to “its thinly veiled economic interests.”

Sadoś denied these claims. – Saying that Poland benefits from the war is unacceptable. This is a lie, he said. “No one who is honest should profit from war,” he added.

10th package of EU sanctions against Russia

On Saturday, the 10th package of EU sanctions against Russia formally entered into force. These include further bans on the export of critical technologies and industrial goods such as electronics, special vehicles, machine parts, spare parts for trucks and jet engines, as well as goods for the construction sector that may be destined for the Russian military, such as antennas or cranes . The list of sanctioned products that could contribute to the technological improvement of the Russian defense and security sector will now include additional new electronic components that are used in Russian battlefield weapon systems, including drones, missiles, helicopters. The sanctions also cover electronic chips and thermal imaging cameras. For the first time, the sanctions list will include seven Iranian entities producing military unmanned aerial vehicles, which were used by the Russian military in the war, including against civilian infrastructure. In addition, the EU has decided to prohibit the transit of dual-use goods and technology exported from the EU through Russia to avoid circumvention. Finally, further restrictions are imposed on imports of goods that generate significant revenue for Russia, such as asphalt and synthetic rubber.

Main photo source: EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

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