New package of EU measures in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, presented new sanctions against the Kremlin on Sunday. Thus, the EU closes its airspace to Russia, it will send arms to Ukraine, it will combat the broadcast of Russia Today and Sputnik and it will take in displaced people fleeing from Ukraine.
“For the first time in history, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack. This is a decisive moment,” said Von der Leyen: “We are closing the EU’s airspace for the Russians, for all Russian-owned aircraft, which will no longer be able to land, take off or fly over EU territory: our airspace will be closed to all Russian aircraft, and that includes the private planes of the oligarchs.”
In addition, the president of the Community Executive has announced, the EU “will ban the Kremlin’s media machinery. The state companies Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and sow division in our Union. That is why we are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
The EU, likewise, points to Belarus for being a key ally in the invasion of Ukraine: “The Lukashenko regime is complicit in this ferocious attack against Ukraine, so we will hit the Lukashenko regime with a new package of sanctions. We will introduce restrictive measures against its most important sectors. This will weigh down its exports of products from fuels and minerals to tobacco, wood, cement, iron and steel. We will also extend to Belarus the export restrictions we introduced on dual-use goods [civil y militar] for Russia”.
This announcement comes a few hours after Von der Leyen herself announced the expulsion of some Russian banks from the Swift financial transmission system, as well as the freezing of the assets of the Russian Central Bank outside its borders – an attempt to close off Russia’s ability to to support the ruble and thus generate an inflation that suffocates its economy.
Thus, throughout this Sunday there has been an escalation of European countries, including Germany and Italy, announcing the closure of their airspace to Russian planes, a measure that may be generalized throughout the EU this Sunday afternoon after the meeting of the 27 Foreign Ministers. Spain has also joined the measure little before the start of the meeting.
European coordination of arms shipments
This Sunday afternoon a new meeting of EU foreign ministers is held, by videoconference, in which the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced: “I will propose to the ministers the use of the European Fund for Peace for two emergency aid measures: to finance the supply of military equipment to the heroic Ukrainian army, which is fighting with fierce resistance against the Russian invaders, and to provide urgently needed supplies, such as fuel.”
The High Representative’s proposal is in response to a direct request made by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday during his speech to EU foreign ministers.
Borrell will thus propose to provide a measure made up of military equipment, such as ammunition, and a measure for non-military equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian army, such as fuel and urgent medical supplies.
The foreign ministers of the 27 “will also discuss the announcement of economic sanctions made this Saturday night by several countries and the European Commission, such as the exclusion of a certain number of Russian banks from Swift, preventing the Central Bank of Russia deploy its international reserves and acting against individuals and entities that facilitate the war in Ukraine and the harmful activities of the Russian government”, explains the EU External Action Service: “The debate will pave the way for the rapid adoption of all acts legal requirements”.
In addition, Borrell will also present a series of possible additional measures “to provide assistance to the people of Ukraine in the face of senseless aggression by Russia.” Thus, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Janez Lenarčič, “will provide information on EU humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries.”
This Sunday afternoon the EU interior ministers also meet to address the refugee crisis that the Russian invasion of Ukraine may cause. According to data from the Ukrainian government, the diaspora is estimated at 360,000 displaced people.
Some bordering countries have already declared their willingness to take in those fleeing war, but the EU hopes to agree on a common position to respond to the crisis.
“President Zelensky’s leadership and his bravery and the resilience of the Ukrainian people are outstanding and impressive. They are an inspiration to all of us,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “We welcome those Ukrainians who have to flee from Putin’s bombs and I am proud of the warm reception they have received from Europeans. We are mobilizing every effort and every euro to support our Eastern Member States to welcome and care for these refugees. We will in full solidarity.”