Ukraine: EU Announces Further Strengthened Sanctions Against Russia

Hannah Smith

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Ukraine: EU Announces Further Strengthened Sanctions Against Russia

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

The EU has closed down its airspace to all Russian aircraft, and will purchase and deliver weapons to Ukraine, in what European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has described as a 'watershed moment'.

'For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack,' von der Leyen announced in a press conference this afternoon, February 27.

Ursula von der Leyen (Alamy)
Ursula von der Leyen (Alamy)

Von der Leyen also confirmed that any and all Russian-owned, Russian-controlled or Russian-registered aircraft will no longer be allowed to use EU airspace, after the majority of countries in Europe announced similar airspace closures over recent days. She stressed that the move would also cover the 'private jets of oligarchs'.

In addition, the EU is set to introduce new sanctions targeting Belarus, with von der Leyen describing Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenka's regime as 'complicit in the vicious attack against Ukraine'. As part of the new package of sanctions, the EU will 'introduce restrictive measures against their most important sectors, stopping their exports of products from mineral fuels to tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel'.

Furthermore, von der Leyen revealed that the EU would be 'developing tools' to ban Russian propaganda outlets including RT and Sputnik News from operating in European countries, saying the state-owned companies 'will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war'.

The new measures come a day after the EU announced in tandem with the US and UK that it would be blocking a number of major Russian banks from accessing the SWIFT system, and would also be freezing the assets of Russia's central bank.

During the press conference, von der Leyen paid tribute to the Ukrainian people and president Volodymyr Zelensky for their 'outstanding and impressive' fight against the Russian invaders, and also gave a message to the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the country in recent days, saying 'we welcome with open arms those Ukrainians who have to flee from Putin's bombs and I am proud of the warm welcome that Europeans have given them'.

The decision of the EU to provide lethal aid to Ukraine marks the first time since the Union's inception that it has given weapons to a non-member state. It comes after German chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed that his country was dropping a longstanding ban on providing arms to other countries.

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Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, World News

Hannah Smith
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