Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) “Bombs are falling on innocent women, men and children” in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared yesterday as she accused Russia’s President Vladimir Putin of having chosen “to bring back war to Europe”. Her remarks came in the context of the EU’s response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Von der Leyen made clear that the EU stands united in its condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing the need for the bloc leaders “to meet the moment.”
She declared that the EU’s “package of massive and targeted sanctions” would have “maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite.” It targets five areas – Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors, export financing and control, and visa policy.
“We are now targeting 70% of the Russian banking market, but also key state-owned companies, including the field of defence”, von der Leyen stated. “These sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base.”
Sanctions directed at Russia’s energy sector will make it “impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries” and will limit its revenues, she asserted.
The ban on exports of aircraft, equipment and spare parts will hurt Russia’s economy, the EC President contended, noting that roughly 75% of “Russia’s current commercial air fleet were built in the EU, the US and Canada… and therefore, they are massively depending on that.”
Besides aircraft parts, the EU is restricting Russia’s access to important technologies such as semiconductors, which are essential for economic development.
Moreover, when it comes to visas, “diplomats and related groups, and business people will no longer have privileged access to the EU”, she said.
The EC President pointed out that the EU had coordinated the sanctions with partners including Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, South Korea, the US and the UK.
“Our unity is our strength… the Kremlin knows this… and it has tried its best to divide us, but it has utterly failed”, she stated, noting that if anything “it has achieved exactly the opposite… we are more than ever united and we are determined.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marks the start “of a new era” with Putin “trying to redraw the maps of Europe by force”, whereas, she concluded, “he must, and he will, fail.”