| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

EU to settle Russia sanctions, weigh cost of war

Foreign ministers from the European Union will discuss sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on Friday, after leaders of the bloc agreed on a comprehensive package of measures to guarantee that President Vladimir Putin “must and will fail.”

Foreign ministers were scheduled to meet in Brussels at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) to finalize steps agreed in principle during the emergency meeting overnight.

Russia launched its invasion on Thursday and its troops advanced on Kyiv on Friday, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with the international community to do more, saying sanctions announced so far were not enough.

The leaders’ agreement in principle meant the bloc is joining the United States and others in taking steps such as curbing Russia’s access to technologies.

However, they opted not to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, hosting a meeting of EU counterparts in Paris on Friday to discuss the economic consequences, said this remained an option, but only as a last resort.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said European sanctions against Russia will lead to cost increases, but the bloc would be able to protect its economies against the effects of further inflation.

The Dutch and Luxembourg prime ministers, Mark Rutte and Xavier Bettel, said the measures agreed with fellow leaders were very substantial, hitting Russia hard in many sectors.

Putin had done everything he could to divide Europe, Rutte said, but he had only managed the opposite.

Bettel said in the early hours of Friday that the most emotional moment of the EU summit was when Zelenskiy addressed the room remotely from Ukraine.

“He told us he doesn’t know whether he will be able to speak with us another time so it’s tough. We have to know how serious the situation is in Ukraine,” he said.

  • Reuters