The European Union debate this Monday new sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. The foreign ministers will evaluate several proposals in Brussels, including one from the European Commission (the bloc’s executive arm), which recommends prohibiting the purchase of gold from Russia.
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“Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
A decision from the foreign ministers is not expected this Monday, a senior European official told AFP.
The foreign ministers of the European Union also they plan to agree on an additional 500 million euros to finance the shipment of weapons to Ukraine in the war against Russia, from the European Peace Support Fund.
With the agreement to continue paying arms support to Ukraine, which will still require the formal ratification of some national parliaments, the EU will have already allocated 2,500 million to support kyiv since the Kremlin began the invasion on February 24.
The heads of European diplomacy will also discuss how the EU can strengthen its relationship with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, in its efforts to win support against Russia.
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Upon his arrival in Brussels for the meeting, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, reiterated his call for Russia to unblock Ukrainian ports and allow exports of millions of tons of grain.
The European Union is “hopeful” that an agreement will be reached this week, he said, referring to ongoing negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.
It is a “matter of life or death” (…) “the lives of (…) tens of thousands of people depend on this agreement,” he added.
Do sanctions work?
The foreign ministers of the European Union insisted on Monday that thehe sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine are working, despite the threat to the energy supply for the block of 27.
Last week the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, criticized this policy and stated that Brussels is doing more damage to the economy of European countries than to Moscow.
This Monday, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, refuted this statement.
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“Some leaders declared that the sanctions were an error, a mistake, I don’t think they are an error, it is what we have to do and we are going to continue,” said Borrell.
Upon arrival in Brussels, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn dismissed the idea of lifting the sanctions.
“That would be fatal. Our credibility is at stake,” he said. “In normal times we would have used diplomacy, the UN, we would have tried to fix this. But, we are not in normal times,” she said.
“We are in a time where the laws of the jungle rule,” Asselborn said.
Borrell stated that the sanctions “work”.
“They are hitting Vladimir Putin and his accomplices hard and their effects on the Russian economy are increasing“, he said in a blog post published this weekend.
European leaders are concerned that public opinion will reject the sanctions at a time when the price of fuel, gas and electricity are unleashed in Europe and hit households hard.
In normal times we would have used diplomacy. But, we are not in normal times
The war launched by the Kremlin in Ukraine had an impact on citizens, faced with “very high prices for raw materials and energy”, acknowledged the new Belgian Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib.
Moscow blocks Ukrainian ports and has started to reduce its gas deliveries to EU countries, some of which such as Germany and Italy are highly dependent on.
“Russia is trying to demoralize us,” said Anna Lührmann, the German minister for European affairs.
In addition, Russia maintains a blockade of exports of about 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine and also “burns the crops” of the country, Asselborn lamented.
(You can read: The European war project and the great paradigm shift for the EU)
In Brussels, the European ministers advocated continuing to support Ukraine financially, and also at a political level and with military material.
They also have on the table a proposal presented on Friday by the European Commission to impose new blockade measures against Moscow, including an embargo on Russian gold purchases.
*With information from AFP and Efe
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