by Athina Fragkouli
After the recent adoption of EU sanctions against Russia, we’ve seen some confusion about our compliance. This article will briefly cover some of these issues and explain why the RIPE NCC is fully compliant with the latest EU sanctions.
Sanctions are not a new issue for the RIPE NCC. Since 2012, we have closely followed legislative developments. We have also contacted the Dutch authorities on several occasions to clarify the applicability of EU sanctions. In November 2021, we published an article that provides a detailed overview on how sanctions affect the RIPE NCC, which we strongly encourage you to read.
The recent EU sanctions on Russia have raised questions about our compliance with these new sanctions. In this article, we will reiterate some key aspects regarding the applicability of sanctions on RIPE NCC services and some give further explanation on the newly adopted EU sanctions against Russia.
As an association under Dutch law, the RIPE NCC is in principle subject to Dutch and EU legislation, and the Dutch authorities are responsible for their enforcement. UN sanctions are not binding unless they are incorporated into Dutch or EU sanctions, which is usually the case. Currently, the RIPE NCC is only affected by EU sanctions regulations.
There are two types of EU sanctions regulations. One targets the provision of specific products and services within a country. Our services are not included in this type of EU sanctions. The other refers to financial restrictions. These financial restrictions consist of: (a) freezing the funds or economic resources of sanctioned entities and individuals, and (b) not making funds or economic resources available to these entities and individuals. It’s this second type of EU sanctions that applies to the RIPE NCC.
The reason this affects us is because the registration of Internet number resources is considered by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to be an economic resource (for more on our discussions with the Dutch authorities, please see our earlier article). In line with the above, EU sanctions require us to freeze any Internet number resources that sanctioned parties already have and prohibit us from making additional resources available to them. The MFA also confirmed there was no need to deregister the Internet number resources held by sanctioned parties. Other RIPE NCC services, such as the operation of K-root, are not considered to be economic resources. Also important to note here is that EU sanctions do not prohibit us from receiving payments from sanctioned parties.
New sanctions are coming out fairly regularly at the moment. The new sanctions do not prohibit RIPE NCC services from being provided in Russia. With regards to financial restrictions, the list of sanctioned entities and individuals now includes a number of Russian entities and individuals. It is worth mentioning that our review against the sanctions list includes reviewing non-sanctioned members that might be owned or controlled by sanctioned parties. We are constantly reviewing the sanctions list and applying our sanctions procedure when we find any new matches, that is, we do not make new Internet number resources available to any sanctioned persons or entities and we freeze any resources they already have. These will be reported in our quarterly sanctions transparency reports.
A source of recent confusion appears to be the assurances we’ve given to Russian members, alongside their invoices which we issued this week. Many of these members are unable to get payment to us due to sanctions and other measures being taken against Russian financial institutions. With that in mind, we assured them that, while their payment obligations remain, they will not risk closure if they are not able to make payment within our standard procedural timeframe.
As we mentioned above, EU sanctions do not prevent us from receiving payment from Russian members, even if they are sanctioned. However, we nevertheless postpone invoicing any sanctioned members due to banking restrictions.
So to sum up: neither our decision to invoice Russian members, nor to grant an extension to those members unable to make payment, constitutes a violation of EU sanctions.
I would like to end by thanking everyone who has shared their concerns or been in contact to request legal clarity. There have been many questions and suggestions over the past weeks, and while we can’t always dive deeply into the issues with you on a short time frame, we do follow your comments closely and we will investigate further where needed.
Athina Fragkouli is the Chief Legal Officer at the RIPE NCC, responsible for all legal aspects of the organisation.