The European Union and NATO’s highest representatives have come together to coordinate the next steps in response to Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine.
The presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and afterwards spoke to the press.
Stoltenberg called the invasion “barbaric”, adding that “Russia is trying to turn back the clock by force, to re-establish a sphere of influence and to undermine the global rules that have kept Europe safe for decades”.
Von der Leyen confirmed that she will present a new package of sanctions against Russia to the leaders of the EU’s Member States at an extraordinary Council meeting scheduled for 20:00 this evening (Thursday 24 Feb).
“With this barbaric attack Russia is trying to turn back the clock by force, to re-establish a sphere of influence and to undermine the global rules that have kept Europe safe for decades”.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General
An initial EU sanctions package was adopted on Wednesday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the so-called Peoples’ Republics in eastern Ukraine at the beginning of the week.
Von der Leyen explained that “with this [sanctions] package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia”.
In addition, the measures will include the freezing of Russian assets in the EU and the suspension of access to European financial markets for Russian banks, she stated.
At NATO HQ on the outskirts of Brussels, Council President Michel announced that EU Member States’ leaders “will agree in principle a package of massive and targeted sanctions”, as well as “decide on political, financial and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and its people”.
With this [sanctions] package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia”
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President
He explained that “Ukrainian cities have been hit, innocent people killed. Women, men, and children are fleeing for their lives. They need our strong support more than ever”.
Already at 18:30, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) and Security and Defence Subcommittee (SEDE) will hold an online meeting to consider the situation with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and members of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
The meeting can be followed live here
Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Ukraine, Michael Gahler (DE, EPP) called on the EU to include Russia’s expulsion from SWIFT, the Belgian-based cooperative society that serves as an intermediary and executor of financial transactions between banks worldwide.
So did the standing rapporteur on Russia, Andrius Kubilius (LT, EPP), a former prime minister of Lithuania, who argued that a failure to do so would encourage the Kremlin to escalate the conflict even further.