Forging and maintaining political unity among the 27 members of the European Union to face a common front against Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine “is not always easy,” admitted Josep Borrell, head of the bloc’s foreign policy.
His comments reflect on the radical and unprecedented steps the EU has taken in the past year, many of which have involved lengthy and complicated negotiations. “It is not always easy, but so far we have managed” to maintain unity, Borrell assured Euronews this Wednesday after addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“Some [Estados miembros] protesting, disagreeing, but in the end we have had the unanimity we need”, pointed out the Spanish politician.
So far, the EU has imposed nine sanctions packages on the Kremlin, including a ban on oil imports, prohibited exports worth more than 35 billion euros, the expulsion of key Russian banks from the SWIFT system and an extensive blacklist with army officers, oligarchs and propagandists.
A tenth package of sanctions is already in the works.
In his interview with Euronews, Borrell has defended the effectiveness of the sanctions, describing them as a “slow but sure acting poison” that is increasing Russia’s budget deficit and crippling critical industrial sectors such as auto manufacturing and aviation. . “We have done more than was thought possible,” Borrell said.
“Then we also have the diplomatic battle with the rest of the world, where we do have to do more. I’m not saying we’ve done it badly, but we certainly haven’t done it well enough.”
“And military aid (to Ukraine) has to be increased and accelerated,” he continued, without mentioning the fighter jets Kiev is begging to receive from Western allies. “That is what I would ask of the Member States. The way to help Ukraine is now and fast,” he said.
Borrell has said that now that Russia has already deployed some 300,000 soldiers – double the number it had before starting the war last February – and is waiting to start an attack “if time permits”.
“And unfortunately, I am afraid that we are going to see how this war is going to have another year,” he said. “The situation is not easy and that is why I think that we Europeans have to continue: more of the same.”
At the same time, the diplomat added, the EU must seek “by all means” a negotiated peace agreement, which is based on respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the UN Charter.
“They are not contradictory things,” he said.
However, Borrell has stressed, the fate of the war rests on the shoulders of a single man: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Putin has said that he has military objectives to meet and until he meets them, he does not seem willing to stop the war,” lamented the High Representative.
“It was he who started the war and it is he who has to stop it.”
Source: Euronews Español