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EU Plans ‘Strongest, Harshest’ Sanctions Package Ever Against Russia

EC Prez says sanctions “will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise... freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop access of Russian banks to European financial markets”

Brussels: The European Union is planning thestrongest, the harshest package” of sanctions it has ever considered at an emergency summit Thursday as the Russian military attacked Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President (Vladimir) Putin accountable for that".

“We will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European leaders for approval,"she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it the strongest, the harshest package"ever considered.

“A major nuclear power has attacked a neighbour country and is threatening reprisals of any other states that may come to the rescue,Borrell saidThis is not only the greatest violation of international law, it's a violation of the basic principles of human co-existence. It's costing many lives with unknown consequences ahead of us. The European Union will respond in the strongest possible terms."

Von der Leyen said themassive and targeted sanctions she will put to EU leaders will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking the access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia".

She said the sanctions, if approved,will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernize. And in addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop the access of Russian banks to European financial markets."

Like the first package of sanctions that were imposed when Russia recognised the two breakaway eastern Ukrainian republics, von der Leyen said all Western powers were walking in lockstep.

“We are closely aligned with our partners and allies the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, but also, for example, Japan and Australia, she said.

As leaders across Asia and Europe scrambled to condemn the attack, explosions were heard in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine. Nations around the world this week have also imposed a raft of new sanctions on Russia.

Asian stock markets were in turmoil.

Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Seoul fell 2% and Hong Kong and Sydney lost more than 3% Thursday. Oil prices jumped nearly $3 per barrel on unease about possible disruption of Russian supplies. 

Earlier, Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.8% to an eight-month low. 

China, which has denounced sanctions against Russia, advised its citizens in Ukraine to stay home and place a Chinese flag in or on their vehicles if they need to travel long distances.

"Social order is chaotic and out of control, especially in the cities where at times

of serious unrest, walking on the streets could make one a target of attack, traffic could be stopped at any time and venturing out creates the possibility of running into uncontrollable risks, the notice said> 

China has increasingly aligned its foreign policy with Russia to challenge the West, and has blamed the United States and its allies for provoking Moscow.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said sanctions against Russia would become law Friday but would not take effect until the end of March. He said the time was needed to give opportunities for businesses that have had very legitimate operations and business interests in Russia and in the affected territories of Ukraine to be able to make changes to their arrangements".

Morrison said financial sanctions and travel bans that target eight members of the Russian Security Council will be a first batch of measures in response to Russian aggression toward Ukraine. Australia will also align with the US and Britain by targeting two Russian banks.

The reason we're doing this is there must be a price for the unprovoked, unlawful, unwarranted, unjustified attacks and threats and intimidation that has been imposed by Russia on Ukraine. This cannot be a consequence-free action by Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime, Morrison said.

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