Russia faces “unprecedented isolation” over its attack on Ukraine and will be hit with the “harshest sanctions” the EU has ever imposed, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday.
“This is not a question of blocs. This is not a question of diplomatic power games. It’s a matter of life and death. It is about the future of our global community,” he said in a broadcast statement.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, next to him, said new sanctions against Russia prepared for adoption at an emergency EU summit later Thursday “will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernise”.
She said the “massive” sanctions “will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets” and “freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market”.
As with a first round of sanctions imposed on Wednesday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin readied his attack, the fresh package will be coordinated with the EU’s partners and allies, she said.
“These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin’s interests and on their ability to finance the war.”
She stated that Russian forces have “invaded Ukraine”, breaching a threshold the West had warned would trigger severe sanctions.
Russia was not targeting only Ukraine, she said.
“The target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order. And we will hold President Putin accountable for that.”
Borrell said: “These are among the darkest hour for Europe since the end of World War 2.”
He said the attack by Russia — “a major nuclear power” — on its pro-West neighbour “is not only the greatest violation of international law, it’s a violation of the basic principles of human coexistence”.
He said Thursday’s summit “will agree and provide political guidance to adopt the strongest package — the harshest package — of sanctions we have ever implemented”.
He added that the EU was setting up urgent assistance for Ukraine and supporting evacuation operations from the country, “including our own staff in zones affected by this Russian attack”.
Both Borrell and von der Leyen emphasised that the European Union stood with the people of Ukraine.