“Todays moments are watershed moments for the European Union. Bombs are falling on innocent women,men and children. They fear for their lifes and many are dying. An all of these happens in 2022 in the very heart of Europe, ” stressed Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission) at the press conference after the Extraorinary Meeting of the EU Council on 24th February 2022.
We “had the opportunity to hear an address by the Ukrainian President on the occasion of this European Council. It was a moment of seriousness, a moment of dignity, a moment of composure as well, when with great frankness he told us the message he wanted to send to us in the extremely difficult and painful circumstances that we is currently experiencing in Ukraine, and we want to emphasize and salute all the dignity and courage of the Ukrainian people who are facing a tragic situation at this very moment. These are women, men, families who are bruised, who are shaken, who are directly affected by the horror of a war, a war that we all hoped was impossible on the European continent until a few days, with all the diplomatic attempts that had been mobilized to roll back this threat,” Charles Michel (President of Eu Council underscored).
“President Putin torched to bring back war in Europe this is a fully fledged invasion in Ucraineand this fundamentally puts into question our peace order,” Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission) underscored yesterday at the end of the EU Extraoordinary Council held in Burssels.
“But today I also say European Union stands united. Tonight European leaders were fully aligned in condemning the atrocious and unprovoked attacks. Now we have to meet the moment. We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” von der Leyen added.
A strongly harmful pool of sanctions pointing at four economic pillars of Russian economy and visa policy
“The package of massive and targeted sanctions Europena leaders approved tonight clearly demonstrates that.
It will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite and it is built of five pillars:
The first is the financial sector.
Second, the energy sector.
The third is the transport sector.
Fourth are exports controlls and the ban of export financing.”
And, finally, visa policy,” von der Leyen explained.
All these meassures must follow due course to be implemented. Once officially adopted at the EU Council to be held later today, they will become effective.
Emmanuel Macron (President of France and in charge of the rotative presidency of the EU Council on behalf of France) added that these measures are the common sanctions agreed by all EU members, but that each member country can adopt sanctions. That is what is has done France, he pointed, targeting several carefully selected Russian cityzens.
Most important highlights of the sanctions package and some considerations on EU dependence on Russian fossil fuels
“Let me highlight some the most importsnt points,” von der Leyen followed:
1.- Financial sanctions affecting a 70% of Russian banking market
“First this package includes financial sanctions that cut Russia’s access to the most important capital markets. We are now targeting the 70% of the Russian banking market, but also key State hold companies including the field of deffence, and this sanctions will increase Russia borrowing costs, rise inflation and gradually erod Russia’s industrial base. We are also targetting the Russian elite by curving the deposits so that they cannot hire their money any more in safe havens in Europe,” she explained.
2.- Sanctions to reduce revenues and relevance of Russia in the energy sector
And the President of the EU Commission added: “The second main pillar targets the energy sector, a key economic area, which specially benefits the Russian State. Our export ban will hit the oil by making it impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil reffineries, which gave actually Russia export revenues of €24Bn in 2019.
The instruments are being banned that are crucial to refine the oil. I mentiones the €24Bn per year that are the revenues for refine oil. These instruments are unique, are built in Europe and cannot be replaced globally for other suppliers. So wewillsee that over time ther will be a depletion of revenues from the refined oil. No chance any morefor Russia to refine oil and then sell it.
…”On the second sheet of paper we have to look at the fact that we are indeed to date too dependent of Russian fossil fuels. Russia has proven, Gazprom has proven not tobe a relyable suppier and we have to do everything to reduce this dependency of gas, oil and coal. And indeed we have been working hard in the last weeks to state a stage willbe a depletion of revenues from the refined oil. No chance any more for Russia to refine oil and then sell it.
On the second sheet of paper, we have to look at the fact that we are indeed today too dependent of Russian fossil fuels. Russia has proven, Gazprom has proved not to be a relyable supplier and we have to do everything to reduce this dependency of Russian gas oil and coal.
And indeed t the moment we have been working hard in the last weeks tocome to a stage where we are able to say today for this winter wewould have enough supplies of gas from elsewhere, LNG gas from relyable suppliers. In casePresident Putin decouple us from Russian gas.”
On 17th-18th February the EU signed several of investment commitments with African Union member countries during the European Union-African Union Summit and on 21st February 2022 the European Union’s diplomatic service signed an agreement with the Government of Qatar to establish the new EU Delegation to the State of Qatar.
“But this is the short term. And indeed in the middle-long term we have to develop a clear strategy with this back experiences over the las year, we have to develop a clear strategy on how to get completely independent of Russian fossil fuels. One of the solutions is indeed, if I look at the gas sector, to work with the supliers of LNG gas. It has the advantage that we have the terminals, we have the pipeline network, all over the European Union. So, from whwerever LNG gas is landing, it can be brought transported to every different part of the European Union. But it also has a second big advantage, this whole infrastructure can be used over tipe for clean hydrogen. We don’t have to build a new infrastructure, but we can use all these pipelines. So themotto is get read of the dependence of Russian gas and go deep into the renewables and this will be a new strategy that we will have to intensify.”…von derLeyen stressed.
3.- Bye to have a Russian carrier among the leading companies in the commercial airlines sector
“The third thopic is the ban that will ban the sale of all aircraft’s spare parst and equipment to Russian airlines.This will degrade a key sector Russian’s economy and the countrie’s connectivity. Three quarters of Russia’s commercial air fleets were built in the European Union, the USA and Canada and therefore they ae massively deppending on that,” von der Leyen said.
4.- Ban on exports of cutting edge tech products at the base of the connected economy of the future
“The fourth poin is that we are limiting Russia’s access to crucial technology. We will hit Russia’s access to important technology it needs to build a prosperous future, such as semiconductors and cutting edge technologies,” The President of the EU Commission pointed.
These commercial bans include also technologies with double use (Military uses and civil uses).
5.- No more ease for travelling and stay in EU countries for Russian diplomats and business people
“And finally, on visas, diplomats and related groups and business people will no longer have priviledged access to theEuropean Union,” Ursula von der Leyen ended.
Japan, South Korea, Australia and other Indo-Pacific countries joining the condemn and agreeing sanctions against Russia
“As always these meassures are closely coordinated with our partners and allies that are, of course the United States and the United Kingdom, Canada and Norway, but that are also joined by South Korea, Japan or, for example, Australia, ” von der Leyen pointed.”
In fact Japan imposed its second tranche of sanctions against Russia right today.
“Our unity is our strenth.The Kremlin knows this and it has tried do his best to divide us. But it has actually failed. It has achieved exactly the opposite. We are more than ever united, and we are determined.
And to conclude, let me stress that these events indeed mark the beginning of a new era. We must be very clear on our analysis. Putin is trying to subyugate a friendly european country and he is trying to redraw the mapsof Europe by force. He must and he will fail,” The President of the European Commission ended.
Going further beyond the war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia, Charles Michel (President of the EU Council) also pointed: “We also had the opportunity to address a number of other subjects, such as the importance of mobilizing support on the eastern flank of the European Union, of course in close collaboration with NATO. There will be a summit tomorrow, where this issue can be addressed again, but we are also preparing solidarity with the countries most directly concerned, in order to be able to mobilize the humanitarian aid that is necessary and also the means to ensure that that refugees can be received in a dignified and suitable manner.
Finally, this situation also shows to what extent the debate which has been open for a few years now, on this ambition to develop a Europe which is more oriented towards sovereignty or strategic autonomy, takes on its full dimension when we are confronted with what we are witnessing today.”
Image over the headline.- Ursula von der Leyen explains main highlights of the 2nd batch of sanctions agains Russia, agreed by EU Council on 24th February 2022. © European Union.
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