Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented new sanctions against Russia at the plenary session of the European Parliament.
She accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, stressing that “humanity itself was killed in Bucha… it was killed in cold blood, executed with its hands tied and a bullet in the head,” the EC noted in a statement on Wednesday.
Von der Leyen stressed that, according to reports, Russian soldiers killed everyone they saw, adding that “Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes.”
At the same time, she noted that the EU has decided to investigate accusations of war crimes by setting up a Joint Investigation Team with Ukraine.
“After Bucha, more than ever, Europe stands firmly with Ukraine,” von der Leyen stressed and added “we stand with Ukrainians in their devastated cities and their bomb shelters.”
She pledged that the EC would do everything in its power to make sure that Ukrainian refugees “can safely return home,” adding that EU officials will assure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of this later this week in Kiev.
Commenting on new sanctions, von der Leyen noted that the package includes an embargo on Russian coal, stressing the importance of limiting Russia’s income from energy exports.
She added that new measures will target large Russian banks to cut them off from the markets, stressing that the move will weaken Russia’s financial system.
According to the EC’s proposal, Russian-owned and -operated vessels are to be banned from the EU, as are road transport operators from Russia and Belarus.
Von der Leyen stressed that the move, together with the proposed ban on export of technology, “will continue to degrade Russia’s technological based and industrial capacity.”
She added that the sanctions are “smart” because they harm Russia more than the EU and announced the EC plans to impose even more sanctions.
Von der Leyen noted that the US agreed to help the EU wean itself off Russian natural gas and concluded “the US and the EU have not only worked closely together on designing an effective and determined response to Russia’s war, we are also supporting each other in the transition towards green energy.”