The head of the European Union’s executive warned Russia on Wednesday that the bloc has a battery of additional sanctions ready if Moscow decides to invade neighboring Ukraine.
On the eve of an EU summit on the issue, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that beyond scaling up and expanding existing sanctions, the EU can adopt “unprecedented measures with serious consequences for Russia.”
Von der Leyen told the European Parliament that there are already economic sanctions in place targeting Russia’s finance, energy and sectors because of its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 and actions that the west sees as increasingly aggressive since.
She did not elaborate what new sanctions could consist of, according to The Associated Press.
US intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops toward Ukraine’s border and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow denies it has any plans to attack Ukraine and rejects Western concerns as part of a smear campaign.
In draft conclusions for Thursday’s summit of EU leaders seen by The AP, the 27 nations promise that “any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe cost in response.”
The EU would coordinate any sanctions package with the United States and Britain.
If some nations see an attack as imminent, others, like France and Germany, believe there is still time for diplomacy to work.
“Above all, I call on Russia to de-escalate, to pursue diplomatic channels and to abide by its international commitments,” said von der Leyen.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will have talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Brussels later Wednesday.
In 2015, France and Germany brokered a peace agreement that helped end large-scale hostilities in Ukraine’s east, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014.
Efforts to reach a political settlement to the separatist conflict, which has killed more than 14,000 people in seven years, have failed. Sporadic skirmishes continue along the tense line of contact. Russia so far refuses to meet France and Germany for more peace talks on the conflict.