Borrell stresses EU unity on Russia, more punitive measures not ruled out

Santiago, Apr 28 (EFE).- The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Thursday stressed the bloc’s unity on dealing with Russia, saying Moscow will not be paid in rubles for gas and that more punitive measures have not been ruled out.

Josep Borrell was speaking in Chile during his first stop on his tour of Latin America, and referred to the EU’s position on what he called the latest Russian “act of aggression.”

Russian state energy company Gazprom earlier this week cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria due to their refusal to pay in rubles, a demand from Moscow that most of the countries of the EU reject.

The European bloc’s member states have so far not met the “necessary unanimity” to impose embargos on Russian gas or oil, nor to tax fuel imports, the senior official said during a press conference at the inauguration of the new premises of the EU delegation in Santiago.

However, this “does not mean that (these options) cannot be reconsidered in view of the events and how they are developing,” he said.

“All Member States are united (…) what happens to Poland and Bulgaria happens to the Union as a whole,” said Borrell, who added that “there are capacities to substitute the supply of gas to these countries through suppliers from other sources.”

The official added that “no member state will do anything that involves circumventing the sanctions. The contracts will be strictly fulfilled in the terms in which they are foreseen. Where it says that you have to pay in euros or dollars, you will pay in euros or dollars.”

“Of course, Russia will do everything possible to try to make these payments in a way that means putting us in difficulty. That is part of the rules of the game, but I want to insist on these two things: the response will be united and supportive, and the sanctions will be respected,” he said.

So far, the gas cut is the harshest reaction Russia has taken in retaliation for the measures imposed by the West to the freezing of the reserves of the Russian Central Bank and the disconnection of several Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system.

The previous day, Borrell met with Chilean leader, the progressive Gabriel Boric, to discuss the modernization of the Association Agreement between the European bloc and Chile, which was signed almost 20 years ago.

“I understand that the Chilean government needs time to thoroughly study the agreement reached by the previous government and to which I contributed as much as I could. And I hope that its reconsideration does not mean reopening the negotiations, but rather a better understanding of the specific terms of the agreement that has been reached,” Borrell said.

The new president has not yet announced a signing, although he assured that he is working on coordination between both parties.

“It is an agreement that will be, when signed, the most complete and the most modern Association Agreement that the European Union has with any other country and should be a model for others to follow,” he said.

The EU is the top foreign investor in Chile and its third-largest commercial partner. EFE


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