The European Union has declared a number of Russian diplomats working in Brussels persona non grata, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said on Tuesday.
“Today, I decided to designate persona non grata a number of officials of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the EU for engaging in activities contrary to their diplomatic status,” Josep Borrell said in remarks as the EU put forward proposals for its fifth sanctions package against Moscow.
He said the EU has been “very clear” in its position and “will continue to advance the sanctions as long as the Russian aggression continues.”
The fresh sanctions are an attempt to “further cripple (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war machinery, following the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation in Ukraine,” said Borrell.
He said Russia’s actions in Bucha and “the brutal siege of Mariupol” have shown “the true face of this war, the true face of the Kremlin and its war against Ukraine and its people.”
Putin and Moscow are facing vehement criticism from Western leaders after Ukraine accused Russian forces of committing a “genocide” and “war crimes” in Bucha.
Russia has rejected the allegations as a “fake news attack,” arguing that images of dead bodies and footage of slain civilians that have drawn global outrage were staged after Russian forces withdrew from the city.
Borrell said the proposals including scaling up “bans on certain exports, including technologies and jet fuel … banning import of goods which provide significant revenue to the state budget, prohibiting import of some fuels, particularly coal.”
“We are also proposing further financial measures and prohibiting Russian vessels from entering EU ports,” he added.
The sanctions list will be expanded to include dozens of more people “from politics to the business sector” who are “engaged in propaganda activities,” said Borrell.
More entities from Russia’s financial, military, industrial and transport sectors will also be targeted, “among them four important Russian banks that will not only be taken out from the SWIFT system, but will also be forbidden from participating in any kind of financial transactions in the EU,” he added.
“The aim of our sanctions is to stop the reckless, inhuman and aggressive behavior of the Russian troops and make clear to the decision makers in the Kremlin that their illegal aggression comes at a heavy cost,” the EU official said.