News Europe EU agrees to freeze assets of Putin and Lavrov in sanctions over...

EU agrees to freeze assets of Putin and Lavrov in sanctions over Ukraine invasion

Lavrov and Putin

The European Union has agreed to blacklist Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as part of the sanctions that the European bloc will formally adopt this Friday against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

“If there is no surprise and no one objects, Putin and Lavrov will be on the list,” EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell confirmed ahead of the EU-27 foreign ministers’ meeting that will adopt the sanctions package approved last night by EU heads of state and government.

The measure will come into force from this very night, European diplomatic sources have confirmed. In this way, the EU will freeze the assets of the Russian leader on EU territory, after Borrell has detailed that the matter was already on the table of the leaders last night, but the unanimity required for the measure was not achieved.

“As there was no clear consensus, the European Council asked us to look for a solution,” he has indicated, assuring that the foreign ministers will certify this step to respond to the large-scale attack against Ukraine.

Although there is a preliminary agreement on this step, the European ministers will discuss whether the sanctions will be limited to freezing assets or adding a ban on entry into the EU, two measures that always go hand in hand with European sanctions, a European diplomatic source said, pointing to differences among the EU-27 on this point.

The inclusion of Putin and Lavrov in the sanctions package has attracted the most attention before the meeting of the foreign ministers. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was in favor, while her Austrian colleague Alexander Schallenberg confirmed the issue to the press and described the sanctions as the “toughest ever adopted by the EU”.

For his part, the Danish Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod, defended imposing the “strongest possible” sanctions against Russia for an unprecedented aggression in modern Europe and indicated that the objective should be to isolate Putin. His Czech counterpart, Jan Lipavsky, pointed out that this round of sanctions is “a first step” and advocated that the package should be “as strong as possible”.

The European bloc remains attentive to events in Ukraine and assumes that more rounds of sanctions will follow, given the seriousness of the crisis. In this regard, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, admitted on his arrival at the meeting that the package of sanctions formally adopted this Friday “will not be enough”, so the EU-27 continue to work on the development of the next phases of coercive measures. He also confirmed that they are preparing a new round of sanctions against Belarus for the support given to the Kremlin by the Lukashenko regime.

Le Drian regretted that the conflict in the Donbas region was “just a pretext” for Putin to “carry out a fight against democracy and sovereignty of states” and warned that Europeans should not only act in solidarity with Ukraine but also to protect “their own security”.

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