Josep Borrell assures that the bloc will impose “massive” economic sanctions if Putin recognizes the Donetsk and Lugansk regions
The hope surrounding the meeting between Putin and Biden was clouded late yesterday by the Russian president’s announcement in which he opened up to recognizing “in the near future” the independence of the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. The head of European diplomacy was blunt in his demand that Moscow not continue down this path, which would provoke “a strong reaction” in the form of sanctions by the European Union (EU).
If the Russian president recognizes independence “I will put the package of sanctions on the table of European ministers,” warned Josep Borrell at the end of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels.
The punishment package for Moscow “is ready.” To activate them, the head of European diplomacy would have to convene an extraordinary council of ministers. So far, what little is known about the sanctions – which the EU insists will be “massive” and “unprecedented” – is that they would affect the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the Russian financial and technology market.
Putin’s statement on Donetsk and Lugansk adds fuel to the crisis, whose tension is increasing, and puts the diplomatic track at a “critical crossroads”. The EU assures that the recognition of the independence of these two regions would be “a new violation” of the Minsk Agreements and international law.
Violence has grown in the Donbas region and Russia maintains some 100,000 troops and weapons capable of invading Kiev on its southern border. The increase in aggression and riots “are a clear Russian attempt to justify a military intervention,” said Borrell.
For the moment, the EU insists on “not panicking” and is keeping all the embassies and missions of the member states open in Kiev – with the exception of those of one country.
The European meeting of Foreign Affairs served for the Twenty-seven to affirm once again their “unity” and commitment to Ukraine. The Council agreed to send 1,000 million euros in macro-financial aid to Kiev, in addition to military advisers, who train local troops, and a mission to help prevent cyber attacks.
On the situation in Belarus, the diplomats agreed that a deterioration is taking place, to the point that the country “is losing its sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, from the White House they consider that the invasion of Ukraine is imminent and accuse Moscow of wanting to “crush” the Ukrainian people. Washington insists that a Russian military operation would be “particularly brutal” and “would cost the lives of Ukrainians and Russians, whether civilians or soldiers,” said US national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
However, the diplomatic channel remains open and Antony Blinken will meet this Thursday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
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