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Strong sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, cautions EU

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a meeting of the College of European Commissioners in Brussels, Belgium, February 2, 2022. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS

According to the Handeslblatt and Les Echos newspapers, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has prepared a “strong and comprehensive” package of penalties to be imposed on Russia if it maintains its aggression against Ukraine.

The news: Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supports rebels in the country’s east, has stockpiled 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and is seeking security guarantees, including a guarantee that Kyiv would never be admitted to NATO.

What they’re saying: “We have prepared a robust and comprehensive package of financial and economic sanctions,” von der Leyen told the papers, adding that these included “capping access to foreign capital” and “export controls, especially on technical goods”.

  • The controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline was also part of the sanctions package. Whether the pipeline can go into operation depends “on Russia’s behaviour”, von der Leyen said.
  • “People close to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and oligarchs could of course be hit sensitively,” she added.
  • The U.S. warned on Thursday that Russia has considered many alternatives for an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the use of a propaganda video depicting a staged attack, as the Kremlin blasted American army deployments in the region.
  • On Thursday, the Kremlin accused Washington of disregarding its pleas for an end to the deadlock, a day after the US announced it would send almost 3,000 additional troops to Poland and Romania.
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