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EU responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with “massive and targeted sanctions”

21:07 24/02/2022

Following Russia’s full-scale attack of Ukraine on Wednesday night, the European Union described the invasion as a “barbaric act” and introduced sanctions on Russia. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Charles Michel, President of the European Council on Thursday.

“We are at a watershed moment,” von der Leyen said. “And the three of us, standing here together, is yet more proof of how closely the European Union and NATO are responding to the Kremlin's actions. The world can see that unity is our strength.”

Von der Leyen said they presented a package of “massive and targeted sanctions” to European Leaders for approval, coordinating closely with allies like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Japan and Australia.

The package includes financial sanctions that limit Russia's access to capital markets, which will come on top of the already intensive pressure Russia’s economy has been facing in recent weeks. 

The sanctions are intended to suppress Russia's economic growth, increase the country's borrowing costs, raise inflation, intensify capital outflows and gradually erode its industrial base, von der Leyen said.

A second pillar of sanctions targets Russia’s access to technologies, hoping to weaken their technological position in key areas and hurt the wallets of wealthy Russian elites.  

“We will hold Russia accountable for this outrageous violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” von der Leyen said.

“And what is at stake is not just Donbas, it is not just Ukraine. What is at stake is the stability of Europe and the whole international order, our peace order. President Putin chose to bring war back to Europe.”

In Brussels, the Ukrainian flag was displayed at 16 Rue de la Loi, the Belgian prime minister’s state office, as a sign of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Cinquantenaire Park’s monumental triumphal arches were also lit up in the flag’s colours.

Photo: Cinquantenaire Park arches lit up in blue and yellow to show solidarity for people of Ukraine; posted by Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo on his Facebook page

Written by Helen Lyons