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PRAGUE: The European Union will target Russian gold exports in an update to its sanctions packages due to be announced on Friday, an EU commissioner said.

The EU has so far approved six packages of sanctions on Russia. The last one passed in June imposed a ban on most Russian oil imports.

The EU will look into “ways we could slap a sanction regime on gold, which is an important commodity for exports from Russia”, Maros Sefcovic, deputy head of the European Commission, said in Prague.

The move follows a ban on gold exports from Russia agreed by the world’s most industrialised nations at a G7 meeting at the end of June.

Sefcovic said the European Commission would announce the update on Friday and member states would discuss it next week.

“As soon as we reach an agreement at the level of member states, we will publish it,” he said ahead of an informal meeting of European affairs ministers held by the Czech presidency of the 27-nation bloc.

“We want to harmonise our sanction regime with the measures recently adopted by the G7,” Sefcovic said, adding the EU was constantly monitoring the implementation and effect of its sanctions.

“We also continuously update the lists of people targeted by the sanctions,” he said.

The EU seeks to “tighten the sanctions to help end the war as soon as possible and to make the economic price paid by the Russian Federation for its aggression as high as possible”, Sefcovic added.

On the eve of the Prague meeting, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna urged the EU to adopt new sanctions against Russia.

“Nothing makes Russia so far feel accountable for (its) crimes,” she told reporters.

“We hope the next, seventh package of sanctions will have a strong restrictive potential and will be taken without further delay and as soon as possible,” said Stefanishyna.

Sefcovic added the EU would also seek to “close all exit routes for those wanting to bypass the sanctions” in the proposed update.

“It is of course a very complex mechanism, so we need to not only set up but also check, monitor and close the places that would create platforms for an exit in some way,” he said.

He waved aside any thoughts of fatigue among EU members helping Ukraine, which Russia invaded on February 24.

“I have never seen so strongly demonstrated unity and effort from all member states to look for all possible reserves, whether we talk about financial aid or arms supplies,” Sefcovic said.

“Even though it’s really difficult, we will continue because it’s the Ukrainians fighting for their freedom who are in the most difficult situation,” he added.

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