EU agrees to sanctions on Putin, Lavrov as Ukraine urges tougher action
European Union states on Friday agreed to confiscate any European assets belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, as Ukraine’s leader takes swift and more forceful action to punish Russia’s invasion of his country. requested to do.
The move against Putin and his top diplomat Sergei Lavrov came as envoys from 27 EU member states detailed a new wave of measures – the second – that were backed by leaders at an emergency summit on Thursday night.
“This is a politically significant sign,” said a senior EU diplomat, referring to the decision to target Russia’s leaders.
An EU official said the latest round of sanctions would be followed by a third that could target “many more” Russian oligarchs.
“We are proceeding as quickly as possible,” the official said.
Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Europe to act more quickly and forcefully in imposing sanctions on Moscow, accusing Western allies of playing politics as Moscow’s forces advance on Kiev.
“You can still stop this aggression. You have to act fast,” he said, adding that banning Russians from entering the European Union, separating Moscow from the swift global interbank payment system and an oil embargo would all be on the table. must be on.
EU foreign ministers gathered at the summit in Brussels to detail the sanctions agreed in principle.
Those moves mean the bloc is joining the United States and others in measures such as curtailing Russia’s access to key technologies and financing.
The sanctions would also target the Russian elite and make it harder for diplomats to travel, but EU leaders opted not to curb Russian energy imports, or – after objections from Germany and Italy, cut Russia off SWIFT. Gave.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, hosting a meeting of EU counterparts in Paris to discuss the economic impact, said withdrawing Russia from SWIFT was an option, but only as a “financial nuclear weapon” of last resort. In.
He said some EU countries – but not France – have reservations about such a move, and the European Central Bank was expected to give an analysis on the results “in the coming hours” if it was taken. .
German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock told reporters in Brussels that the SWIFT option ran the risk of hurting individuals, such as people trying to send money to relatives in Russia, “while those responsible for the bloodshed would will still be able to conduct their bank business”.
His Luxembourg counterpart, Jean Esselborn, said the decision to approve Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov in person would be formally agreed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Asked whether he thinks Russian leaders will be affected by EU sanctions, he said: “I believe they all live in a bubble where they can no longer recognize reality”.