Brussels, Feb 25 (EFE).- European Union members agreed on Friday to a second tranche of “massive and targeted sanctions” to punish Russia’s economy, energy and technology sectors, as well as Moscow’s top brass.
The new sanctions will have “maximum impact on the Russian economy and political elite,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press conference after the special meeting in the early hours of Friday.
Announcing the highlights of the package, von der Leyen said Russia’s access to the most important capital markets will be cut.
“We are now targeting 70 percent of the Russian banking market, but also key state-owned companies, including in the field of defense. These sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, increase inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base,” she said.
The deposits of Russian elite will also be targeted “so that they cannot hide their money anymore in safe havens in Europe,” she added.
An export ban will hit the oil sector to make it “impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries,” while the sanctions will also ban the sale of all aircrafts, spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines.
“This will degrade the key sector of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity,” von der Leyen said
The bloc will also limit Russia’s access to “technologies it needs to build a prosperous future, such as semiconductors or cutting-edge technologies.”
And finally, visas will be cut.
“Diplomats and related groups and business people will no longer have privileged access to the European Union,” von der Leyen said.
The bloc held back, however, from deploying all its options. Kyiv had demanded Moscow be cut off from the Swift international payments system, for example.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at the press conference that these first sanctions imposed by EU the since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday were just an “initial response” and “further measures at a government level will be taken.”
Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez said the package will cause “very important economic damage” to the government of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
This is a “massive package of sanctions, such as has never been adopted” by the EU, Sánchez told reporters at the end of the extraordinary summit.
The main message conveyed by the 27 member states and institutions is “of profound solidarity with Ukrainian society, with the Ukrainian leaders,” he said.
During the meeting, the bloc had the opportunity to have a videoconference with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which was “very difficult, emotionally charged,” according to Sánchez, who conveyed “solidarity on behalf of Spain (…) to the Ukrainian people” and promised to help the country “to the best of our ability.”
The invasion of Russia is “probably one of the most important structural changes, systemic transformations of international order,” he stressed, adding that it “directly affects European security.”
Sánchez said that the European leaders left the meeting “satisfied” with the sanctions adopted by the EU, along with those of partner countries. EFE