Sanctions against Russia open new chapter in EU history: EU Commission chief

Bloc used economic power to counter military aggression, says Ursula von der Leyen.

Sanctions against Russia open new chapter in EU history: EU Commission chief

EU sanctions against Russia opened a new chapter in the European history when economic power battled a military force, the European Commission president said on Friday.

Speaking at a ceremony of the Cercle d’Economia in Barcelona, Spain, where she received the European Construction Award, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has mobilized his armed forces to wipe out Ukraine from the map. We have mobilized our unique economic power to defend Ukraine.”

She explained that the EU’s action opened a “new chapter” in the EU’s history by “putting economic power to counter military aggression and to defend our most cherished European values.”

Von der Leyen also stressed that all the measures were taken for the sake of “the people of Ukraine” and their right “to write their own country's future.”

“Ultimately, it is also for our democracy, our freedom to follow the rule of law and to reject the right of might, our desire to live in peace, in a continent finally united,” she added.

Von der Leyen presented on Wednesday the European Commission’s proposal about the 6th round of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

The new package would ban oil imports from Russia, exclude Sberbank from the SWIFT international payment system, as well as hit new individuals, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill with an asset freeze and travel.

Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, which are highly dependent on Russian fossil fuels, have already raised concerns over the proposal.

The EU has allocated €1.5 billion in military support to Ukraine and mobilized over €4 billion in macro-financial assistance, humanitarian aid, and support to EU countries hosting refugees from Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.

It has also adopted five sets of sanctions, targeting individuals, including President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, oligarchs, and military officers, as well as banning the export of luxury goods, and the imports of coal, and excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT.

In March, the European Commission revealed a plan to reduce dependency on Russian energy and to cut gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year, by replacing them with other sources from East Africa and the US, and accelerating the transition to green energy.