The European Union has agreed on a “toughest ever” set of sanctions against Russia, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. He says it will directly target President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
However, speaking on Friday afternoon, he said Brussels would not impose travel restrictions that would bar the two officials from visiting the 27-member bloc because “It wouldn’t be appropriate if we wanted to give negotiations a chance.”
“It’s the biggest package of sanctions,” explained the Austrian Chancellor. “Part of it will be painful for us.”
However, he claimed that the punitive measures would deal a heavy blow to the Russian economy.
The move comes after Russia launched a military attack in Ukraine on Thursday morning. This followed a request from the leaders of the two breakaway people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk asking for help in countering what they see as a sharp increase in “Ukrainian aggression”.
Putin insisted that Moscow had “no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory”, but said he wanted “demilitarize” Ukraine.
Shortly after his televised address, a series of explosions hit sites across the Eastern European nation, with military installations and airfields as primary targets.
On Friday afternoon, Ukrainian defense sources said troops from Moscow had reached the outskirts of Kiev and gunfire had also been heard near the capital’s government district. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that it had blocked Kiev from the west.
A handful of Western nations have hit Moscow with sanctions in response to its assault on the Eastern European nation. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden revealed a wave of embargoes meant to hamper Russia’s ability to do business in major currencies, as well as punitive measures against banks and state-owned companies.
“It’s a premeditated attack” Biden told reporters at the White House. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will suffer the consequences.”
On the same day, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned what she described as “barbaric” military action and pledged to “present a set of massive and targeted sanctions”.
“The sanctions will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy. We will freeze Russian assets in the EU and block Russian banks’ access to our financial market. This is designed to weigh heavily on the Kremlin’s ability to fund the war,” she says.
You can share this story on social media: