Europe, Russia-Ukraine War

EU sanctions aim to weaken Russia's economic base

European Commission chief vows to freeze Russian assets in EU, cease Russian banks' access to European financial markets

Merve Aydogan   | 24.02.2022
EU sanctions aim to weaken Russia's economic base


Amid Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, the head of the European Commission said on Thursday that the bloc's sanctions against Moscow are intended to "weaken Russia's economic base."

Saying that "a package of massive and targeted sanctions" against Russia would be presented to European leaders for approval, Ursula von der Leyen said: "With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia."

During a press conference with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, von der Leyen stressed that the EU aims to "weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernize."

Her remarks came following reports of explosions in several Ukrainian provinces, including the capital Kyiv, and tanks reportedly crossing the border from Belarus into Ukraine early on Thursday.

The EU Commission chief also said the bloc "will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to European financial markets."

The upcoming sanctions package is closely aligned with countries like the US, UK, and Canada, as well as Japan and Australia, she noted.

"These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin's interests and their ability to finance (the) war," von der Leyen added.

Calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to "immediately stop the violence and to withdraw its troops from Ukraine's territory," the EU official stressed that they "will not let President Putin tear down the security architecture that has given Europe peace and stability over many decades."

"He should not underestimate the resolve and strength of our democracies," she said, expressing the bloc's solidarity with Ukraine and its people.

For his part, Borrell described the latest developments in Ukraine as "the darkest hours of Europe" since World War II.

"The EU will respond in the strongest possible terms and agree on the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented," he said, urging the Russian president to "stop this senseless aggression."

Borrell noted that he will speak with allies around the world to ensure that the international community fully understands the gravity of the situation.

"Russian leadership will face unprecedented isolation," he asserted.

The announcement came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military intervention in Ukraine and just three days after recognizing two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine.

The recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions drew international condemnation and threats of tougher sanctions against Moscow.

In recent months, Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops around Ukraine, but Putin repeatedly denied any intention of invading.​​​​​​​

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