The European Union is planning the “strongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit on Thursday as the Russian military attacked Ukraine and world leaders reacted with outrage at Moscow’s actions.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that “the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President (Vladimir) Putin accountable for that”.
“We will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European leaders for approval,” she said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the “strongest, the harshest package” ever considered.
“A major nuclear power has attacked a neighbour country and is threatening reprisals of any other states that may come to the rescue,” Mr Borrell said.
“This is not only the greatest violation of international law, it’s a violation of the basic principles of human co-existence. It’s costing many lives with unknown consequences ahead of us.
“The European Union will respond in the strongest possible terms.”
Ms von der Leyen said the “massive and targeted sanctions” she will put to EU leaders “will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking the access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia”.
She said the sanctions, if approved, “will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernise. And in addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop the access of Russian banks to European financial markets”.
Like the first package of sanctions that were imposed when Russia recognised the two breakaway eastern Ukrainian republics, Ms von der Leyen said all Western powers were walking in lockstep.
“We are closely aligned with our partners and allies the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, but also, for example, Japan and Australia,” she said.