Europe Politics

Putin 'bringing war back to Europe,' EU chief says ahead of more Russia sanctions

Key Points
  • The 27 heads of state of the EU will gather for an emergency meeting in Brussels at 8 p.m. local time on Thursday, where Von der Leyen is due to present a new set of sanctions against Moscow.
  • These will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking access to key technologies and markets.
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The European Union will go ahead with more sanctions against Russia on Thursday, following Moscow's decision to invade Ukraine.

"President Putin is responsible for bringing war back to Europe. In these dark hours, the European Union stands together with Ukraine and its people," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said early Thursday.

"What we are facing is an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against a sovereign, independent country," she added.

"Russia's target is not just Donbass, the target is not just Ukraine, the target is stability in Europe and the whole international rules-based order. For that, we will hold Russia accountable."

Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU's trade chief, told CNBC Thursday that Brussels need to be "bold and strong and united" with its response "because it is clear that of all possible scenarios, the worst scenario is materializing."

"Russia has launched full-scale war against Ukraine ... We have to do everything to combat this Russian aggression and we have to do everything to support Ukraine," he told CNBC's Rosanna Lockwood.

Speaking on financial assistance for Ukraine, he said the scale of support that the EU would need to provide must go much beyond 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion) — the EU's current emergency macro-financial assistance operation. Dombrovskis couldn't give specific numbers but said financial support needed to be substantially stepped up and it would be discussed with the International Monetary Fund.

The 27 heads of state of the EU will gather for an emergency meeting in Brussels at 8 p.m. local time on Thursday, where von der Leyen is due to present a new set of sanctions against Moscow.

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These will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking access to key technologies and markets. They will also look to "weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernize" and "freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market," von der Leyen also said.

Earlier Thursday morning, European Council President Charles Michel, who will be chairing the meeting in Brussels, said the heads of state will be adopting these measures "swiftly."

Thursday's plan to adopt more sanctions against Russia comes after an initial package of measures was introduced earlier this week. In it, the EU went as far as sanctioning Russia's Defense Ministry and the Putin's chief of staff.

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