Friday, February 3, 2023

Explosions heard in Kyiv as Ukrainian president says ‘enemy sabotage groups’ have entered capital

The European Union approved a second round of sanctions on Russia Friday, joining the United States and other allies in targeting the country’s economy over its attack on Ukraine.

The package takes aim at a range of sectors including finance, transport and energy. It imposes export controls, includes new visa measures and adds more Russians to a sanctions list.

“The package of massive and targeted sanctions European leaders approved tonight clearly demonstrates that it will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference early Friday.

“Our unity is our strength,” she said. “The Kremlin knows this. And it has tried its best to divide us but it has utterly failed.”

More details are expected Friday. But in a series of tweetsvon der Leyen said that the sanctions would affect everything from Russia’s ability to upgrade its oil refineries to the ability of businessmen and diplomats to obtain visas.

She said that the sanctions target 70 percent of the Russian banking market and ban the sale of aircraft to Russian airlines.

One question going into the talks was whether the EU would heed calls from eastern European countries to cut Russia off from the Swift global payment system. However, President Joe Biden said Thursday Swift was not part of the plan because, “that’s not the position the rest of Europe chooses to take” — suggesting they were overruled.

European leaders have warned for weeks of devastating sanctions, but have been divided on when and how to proceed. Some countries initially hoped to deter a Russian invasion by hitting the country with one big sanctions package, others pressed for an incremental approach.

There has also been public disagreement about whether certain sectors, such as energy, should be excluded because of the potential economic impact on Europe. However, the sight of tanks rolling into eastern Ukraine seemed to quiet the chatter.

On Tuesday, the EU announced a first round of penalties that targeted Kremlin officials, lawmakers, three banks and also restricted Russian access to EU financial and capital markets.

Putin invaded anyway, sending the bloc scrambling for next steps.

EU officials promised that the second tranche would be a tougher blow.

“These events mark the beginning of a new era. Putin is trying to subjugate a friendly European country. He is trying to redraw the map of Europe by force. He must and he will fail,” von der Leyen said.

“This is now a critical moment for the history of the European Union, the history of Europe,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters ahead of meetings Thursday. “The whole free world is looking at us.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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