EU, Germany take unprecedented action against Russia
By ECCT staff writers
The European Union is stepping up its efforts to support Ukraine as it endures an invasion by Russian forces. At a European Council meeting on 24 February, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a strengthening of sanctions against Russia, including its leaders, new sanctions against Belarus, military support for Ukraine and the shutting down of European airspace to Russian planes and state-backed Russian media in Europe. And over the weekend, the EU announced further support measures for refugees.
For the first time in its history, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to counter the attack on Ukraine. According to a statement by President Charles Michel the EU is organising the emergency delivery of defensive military equipment, including guns, ammunition, rockets, and fuel to Ukrainian troops.
At the same time, the EU has strengthened sanctions against the Kremlin and its Belarus’ Lukashenko regime.
In addition, the EU has shut down EU airspace for all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft, including private planes chartered or otherwise controlled by Russian oligarchs.
In another unprecedented step, the EU has stopped state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries from operating in the EU.
In a new list of sanctions against Belarus, the EU will stop imports of products including mineral fuels, tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel.
The latest move comes on top of a strong package of sanctions already in place. Under the package, important Russian banks will be excluded from the SWIFT system and the EU will also ban the transactions of Russia's central bank and freeze all its assets, to prevent it from financing the war as well as target the assets of Russian oligarchs.
The EU is also providing significant money and humanitarian assistance for people inside Ukraine and refugees fleeing the country.
In related news German chancellor Olaf Scholz has overturned decades of German foreign and defence policy by announcing plans to send missiles, armoured vehicles, and 10,000 tons of fuel to Ukraine and spend €100 billion to modernise its military. He also vowed that Germany would finally meet its NATO commitment to spend 2% of gross domestic product yearly on defence, up from the 1.5% currently spent.