The European Union has planned a “strong and comprehensive” package of sanctions to be imposed on Russia if it continues its aggression against Ukraine, according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke to the Handeslblatt and Les Echos newspapers.
Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supports separatists in the country’s east, has stockpiled 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and is seeking security assurances, including a vow that Kyiv would never be admitted to NATO.
“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.
Russia has formulated several options as an excuse to invade Ukraine, including the potential use of a propaganda video showing a staged attack, the United States said on Thursday, as the Kremlin condemned American troop deployments in the region.
The Kremlin accused Washington on Thursday of ignoring its calls to ease the standoff, a day after the United States announced it would send nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania.