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EU leaders announce further sanctions against Russia

February 24, 2022

European Union leaders have agreed to another set of sanctions, taking aim at Russia's financial, transport and energy sectors, among other things.

Reporters await the arrival of EU leaders
The emergency leaders' summit in Brussels was convened in haste as Russian troops entered Ukraine, though details of possible sanctions had been under discussion for some timeImage: Olivier Hoslet/AP Photo/picture alliance

European Union leaders have agreed to a sweeping second set of sanctions against Russia at an emergency meeting of the bloc in Brussels Thursday evening. 

The EU statement said the sanctions cover:

  • the financial sector, 
  • the energy and transport sectors,
  • dual-use goods as well as export controls and export financing,
  • visa policy,
  • additional sanctions against Russian individuals.

However, both the EU and US decided for the time being not to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system, as demanded by Ukraine.

What EU leaders said about the sanctions

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the sanctions would target 70% of the Russian banking market and key state owned companies, including in defense.

The export ban would "hit the oil sector by making it impossible for Russia to upgrade its refineries," von der Leyen said. The EU was also banning the sale of aircrafts and equipment to Russian airlines, she added.

The visa restrictions will see diplomats and business people no longer having privileged access to the European Union. 

European Council President Charles Michel said the measures would have "massive and severe consequences" for Russia in response to the "unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine." 

The sanctions, which come after Russia invaded Ukraine Thursday morning, had been billed by the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borell as "one of the harshest packages of sanctions we have ever implemented."

The EU approved a first round of sanctionsafter Russia recognized two separatist breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Those sanctions, which went into effect Wednesday, mainly took aim at Russian banks and lawmakers.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters upon his arrival at the summit that he was open for discussion on the topic, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it was important to agree "to those measures that have been prepared — and keep everything else for a situation where it may be necessary to go beyond that."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with European Council President Charles Michel at the summit
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with European Council President Charles Michel at the summitImage: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo/picture alliance

How the EU reacted to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Russia's attack Thursday drew widespread condemnation from Western powers, as social media videos emerged of people lining up at gas stations or grocery stores in several Ukrainian cities, with people faced with the decision of either staying put at their homes or fleeing the country.

European Commission President von der Leyen condemned the attack in the morning, calling it "barbaric" and accusing Russia's Putin of bringing "war back to Europe." 

"With this package, we will target the strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key to Russia," von der Leyen said.

Sanctions would aim at weakening Russian economy and its "capacity to modernize," she said. 

"Sanctions would also freeze Russian assets in Europe and block Moscow's access to European financial markets," von der Leyen added.  

Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda, who declared a state of emergency for two weeks hours after Russian attack on Ukraine, said EU member states would also discuss offering EU candidate status to Ukraine, a measure Kyiv has long sought.

Josep Borrell said he had summoned the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, in Brussels. The EU has demanded that Putin immediately withdrew troops from Ukrainian territory, EU foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano said in a statement released earlier in the day.

rm/msh (Reuters, AP)