Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have been added to the list of sanctioned people over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, has confirmed.
Speaking on Friday (25 February) following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Borrell said that the measures were part of a new set of sanctions against Russia, cutting Russian access to the most important capital markets, and targeting seventy percent of the Russian banking sector.
Putin and Lavrov have been added to a list of sanctioned individuals, along with members of the Russian Duma who support the war and members of the Russian intelligence services.
However, Borrell did not give an estimation of the volume of assets held by Putin and Lavrov or an amount that would be targeted.
He said Putin now joins only two other world leaders sanctioned by the bloc: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.
Excluding Russia from being able to access the SWIFT international payment system was left out of the sanctions package after several countries, believed to include Germany and Italy, refused to support it, though the measure remains on the table, Borrell said.
“I want to stress that we are not sanctioning the Russian people…many of them have spoken against this senseless war,” said Borrell, pointing to protests against the invasion in around fifty Russian cities.
“Putin is not the Russian people,” he added.
“Russia needs to see that it is going to be isolated internationally,” said the EU’s chief diplomat, telling reporters that the EU was helping to mobilise support for an upcoming vote at the UN Security Council. Russia will veto any resolution in the UNSC, meaning that a resolution will then it will go to the General Assembly.
Borrell added that he had spoken with foreign ministers from China and India, whose countries have refused to condemn the Russian invasion.
Elsewhere, the Council of Europe on Friday suspended Russia’s voting rights, while in the culture, Russia was excluded from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. European football’s blue riband event, the Champions League final, has been moved from St Petersburg to Paris and the Russian F1 Grand Prix has been cancelled.
“Lies and disinformation are streaming from Russia from the highest political level,” said Borrell, pointing to the accusations being peddled by the Kremlin that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is guilty of genocide and war crimes, and a Nazi.
“This kind of information has to be combated, debunked and curtailed,” said Borrell.
Borrell added that EU ministers had agreed to provide more support for neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe, including Georgia and Moldova, and the Western Balkans.
Despite criticism that the EU’s sanctions package falls short of the measures imposed by the likes of the United States and the United Kingdom, Borrell defended the measures as “a very complete package that has been agreed in cooperation with the US and UK. They don’t have elements that we don’t have.”
“The aim is to occupy Kyiv and install a government that answers to Russia. That’s not where we’re at yet. We have heard that the Ukrainian army and people will resist. That is why we are imposing sanctions on Russia but we know that they won’t have an immediate effect.”
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]