Brussels: Top European Union officials said Tuesday that the bloc is set to impose sanctions on several Russian officials as well as banks financing the Russian armed forces. It also intends to limit Moscow’s access to EU capital and financial markets. A statement Tuesday said the move would ‘target those who were involved in the illegal decision’ to recognise two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine. However, the European Union (EU) didn’t identify them.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel said it would also ‘target trade from the two breakaway regions to and from the EU’. They said the restrictive measures would aim to limit ‘the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU’s capital and financial markets and services, to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies’.
EU foreign ministers are meeting later Tuesday to discuss the measuresThe two leaders said that ‘the EU has prepared and stands ready to adopt additional measures at a later stage if needed in the light of further developments’.
Latvia’s Defence Minister has urged world leaders to act now to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine. He has said that sanctions must be swift and punishing or it would be too late to protect international security. Minister Artis Pabriks told this agency Tuesday that it was time for European countries and their allies to impose sanctions on Russia.
“If we do fail to stop Mr Putin now — to stop his aggression — and if we are not managing to force him to de-escalate now, then our global values will decrease and everybody will think that they can play around with the Europeans – they can play around also with Americans,” Pabriks said.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said Tuesday that, despite Russia’s actions in Ukraine, he hasn’t seen an increase in Russian military activity in the Baltic Sea, where many countries are suspicious of Moscow’s intentions.
“Strangely enough, situation in the entire Baltic Sea area seems very calm. The number of Russian military equipment dispatched in the area is on the decline,” Niinisto stated. He said he doesn’t currently see Finland, which is a member of the European Union but not NATO, facing a military threat from Russia. The two countries share a long border. But he stressed that Finland will pay close attention to Moscow’s future actions outside Ukraine.
Niinisto said he didn’t know why Russia has ‘now simply decided to settle the Ukraine situation that has been going on for some seven, eight years’. He said one reason may be Russia has noticed ‘that Ukraine has been strengthening year-by-year and is continuing to do so’.
Meanwhile German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin that Putin may be looking for a pretext to occupy the whole of Ukraine. Scholz said Tuesday that his and other countries made clear at a UN Security Council meeting that Moscow ‘has no support in the world’ for its decision to recognise the independence of rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine.
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy deserves our highest respect for his country not letting itself be provoked by Russia, because the Russian president is waiting for just that to have a pretext possibly to occupy all of Ukraine,” Scholz said.
Scholz made the comment during an appearance in Berlin at which he announced the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.