From Putin’s inner circle to his own pocket. The European Union is finalizing a second round of sanctions agreed this Thursday night by the heads of state and government and that this Friday afternoon the foreign ministers have to finish off in Brussels in which the Russian president and the head of his diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov.
As they advance Financial Times and Bloombergthe EU is preparing to freeze the assets of Putin and his Foreign Minister, Lavrov within the second package of sanctions in 48 hours approved in Brussels, which in this case go beyond the close circle of the Kremlin leader to affect his assets .
The foreign ministers plan to approve this Friday afternoon the package of sanctions this Friday, along with measures against banks, public companies and the Russian industrial and financial sector.
However, as advanced, Putin and Lavrov will not be subject to the travel ban as is the case with other sanctioned Russian leaders, with the idea of conveying the message that diplomatic options remain open, and the possibility that they can hold meetings within the EU.
The Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, stated after last night’s European Council: “The main thing is that Putin and Lavrov appear. There were some who, in order to keep the window for dialogue open, separated the seizure of assets from the travel bans. But the general feeling was that Putin has now gone so far that nothing can be expected. Really the toughest sanctions should be imposed.”
“It’s a war”
EU leaders agreed on Thursday night to extend sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. And, in addition, they have opted to cut energy dependence on Moscow; prepare for the exodus of refugees and target Belarus for its role as a platform for the Russian attack on Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
Thus, the extraordinary European Council convened urgently in Brussels, has agreed on new sanctions “with harsh and severe consequences for Russia for its action.” “We have approved a package of massive sanctions that, together with the G7 and together with other economies, what we are going to do is inflict very significant economic damage on the Putin government”, said the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez: “What will be announced tomorrow it will be a massive package of sanctions from the economic point of view, as has never been done before, a very important step will be taken, very forceful against the Putin regime, not only people, leaders, oligarchs, but also different sectors, such as finance, energy, trade relations, exports and imports”.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stated at the end of the summit: “It is important to mobilize support on the eastern flank of the EU, in cooperation with NATO, something that we discussed at the Alliance summit this Friday. And , also with the humanitarian aid necessary to welcome refugees in a dignified manner. We need an in-depth debate in March on the basis of the proposals of the European Commission in relation to energy sovereignty and the importance of acting on defense capabilities” .
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has described the moment as “a turning point in which innocents, who fear for their lives, are being bombed in the middle of 2022 and in the heart of Europe. Putin has once again brought war on Europe and all European leaders have condemned this heinous attack. The Kremlin must be held accountable.”
Von der Leyen has given some information about the package of sanctions agreed by the leaders, which “will have an impact on the economy, energy, transportation, export controls to veto key materials to modernize its refineries and that could cost the loss of 24,000 million a year, and the visa policy. The package includes financial sanctions that cut off access to markets to 70% of the banking sector and defense companies, which increases the costs of Russia to finance itself, something that will affect to the Russian economy and elite, who will not be able to hide their fortunes in Europe. We ban aircraft manufacturing, which is going to hit Russia hard because three-quarters of its fleet has been built in Europe and Canada. We limit access to sectors crucial parts of the economy, such as semiconductors and cutting-edge technologies. It is the beginning of a new era: Putin is trying to subjugate a friendly country by force, he has to fail and he will fail.”
The French president and current president of the EU Council, Emmanuel Macron, has been blunt: “It is not a crisis, it is a war, and it is due to the decision of Putin, who has initiated massive operations that have ended the lives of Ukrainian civilians”.