EU to cease sanctions against three Russian businessmen this week -sources

FILE PHOTO: European flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels,

By Julia Payne and Gabriela Baczynska

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will not renew sanctions against three businessmen targeted over Russia's war against Ukraine when the current punitive measures expire this week, four diplomatic sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Western governments have imposed sweeping economic sanctions, including Russian oil import bans, on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Accompanying individual sanctions include a travel ban and asset freeze, covering about 1,800 people and entities deemed responsible for or benefiting from the war.

The trio poised to be delisted are Russian businessman Grigory Berezkin, billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov and the former head of Ozon, a Russian e-commerce firm, Alexander Shulgin.

Russian military leader Georgy Shuvaev, who died last year, will also be removed, the sources said.

One of the four sources, all of whom work on sanctions and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the listings were considered legally weak, meaning the EU was not certain they would stand up in court if challenged.

The EU needs unanimity among all the bloc's 27 member states to impose sanctions, which are renewed every six months. The next batch expires on Sept. 15.

Nearly 1,600 individuals and more than 200 entities are on the EU's sanctions list, which dates back to 2014 when Russia took over the Crimea region from Ukraine.

Akhmedov is involved in Russia's oil and gas sector while Berezkin, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is involved in a range of sectors including media, infrastructure and energy, according to the official EU sanctions list.

(Reporting by Julia Payne and Gabriela Baczynska; Additional reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alex Richardson and David Goodman)