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BRUSSELS: The EU on Wednesday agreed to ban exports to three mainland Chinese firms and blacklist North Korea’s defence minister in new sanctions for the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine, officials said.

The fresh round of measures — the 13th since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion — overall targets some two hundred officials and entities mainly from Russia involved in the conflict.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the agreement by the EU’s 27 countries and said it would further cut “Russia’s access to drones”.

“We must keep degrading Putin’s war machine,” von der Leyen wrote on X. Multiple diplomats said the new sanctions included adding three mainland Chinese firms to a list of companies that EU businesses were banned from dealing with.

The firms — the first in mainland China to be targeted by the measures — were accused of involvement in supplying sensitive military technology to Russia.

Firms in Turkey and India were also included, as the EU increasingly targets third countries for helping Moscow circumvent its sanctions.

As part of the new package, diplomats said the EU also imposed an asset freeze and visa ban on North Korea’s defence minister Kang Sun Nam for the supply of ballistic missiles to Moscow.

The EU has imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia in the two years of its war and has so far put some 2,000 officials and entities on its blacklist.

Despite the economic punishment, Russia’s economy has remained resilient and the Kremlin has managed to ramp up military production. The second anniversary of the invasion on Saturday comes as Ukrainian forces are losing ground and the future of support from key ally the United States remains in doubt.

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