EU ups the ante with Russia; closes airspace, bans media | European Union News

The European Union has introduced sweeping new sanctions in opposition to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, closing its airspace to Russian plane and banning Russian state media retailers broadcasting within the bloc.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, asserting the measures on Sunday, mentioned the Union was taking the unprecedented step of financing arms to Ukraine, and was hitting Russian ally Belarus with sanctions for facilitating the invasion.

“They gained’t have the ability to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU. Together with the personal jets of oligarchs,” von der Leyen mentioned of the airspace measures in a tweet.

Particular person EU international locations have been asserting bans on Russian planes of their airspace in current days.

The UK has moreover banned Russian airways from touchdown at its airports or crossing its airspace, that means Moscow is going through a close to complete blockade of the continent’s skies.

The measures come on prime of sanctions von der Leyen introduced a day earlier which are about to be applied: reducing some Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank messaging community, banning all transactions with Russia’s central financial institution, and added restrictions on Russian oligarchs.

The EU has additionally sanctioned Russian President Vladimir Putin and his international minister Sergey Lavrov.

Collectively, the steps added as much as the hardest stance the EU has taken in opposition to a rustic, reflecting the bloc’s horror and anger at Putin’s assault on Ukraine, launched on Thursday.

“Because the conflict in Ukraine rages on, and Ukrainians struggle bravely for his or her nation, the European Union steps up as soon as extra its help for Ukraine and the sanctions in opposition to the aggressor – Putin’s Russia,” von der Leyen mentioned in a broadcast handle.

She mentioned the airspace ban would prohibit flights into or over the EU by “each Russian aircraft – and that features the personal jets of oligarchs”.

The measure consolidated what was already de facto largely in place, with lots of the EU’s 27 nations individually asserting airspace closures to Russian flights.

Stopping Russian ‘lies’

The transfer in opposition to Russian state media focused its retailers Russia Right this moment – often known as RT – and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries.

Von der Leyen mentioned they “will now not have the ability to unfold their lies to justify Putin’s conflict and to sow division in our Union”.

The EU’s international coverage chief Josep Borrell, at her facet, mentioned the measure concerned “banning Russia Right this moment and Sputnik from broadcasting within the European Union”.

Sputnik responded with a sardonic assertion saying: “We propose the European Fee not cease midway and ban the web altogether.”

RT’s French subsidiary tweeted the ban “goes in opposition to the very rules of freedom of expression” and mentioned it was a sufferer of “censorship”.

Von der Leyen mentioned the sanctions in opposition to Belarus had been aimed toward “the opposite aggressor on this conflict”, naming the regime of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

“We are going to hit Lukashenko’s regime with a brand new bundle of sanctions,” she mentioned.

“We are going to introduce restrictive measures in opposition to their most vital sectors. This may cease their exports of merchandise from mineral fuels to tobacco, wooden and timber, cement, iron and metal.

“We can even prolong to Belarus the export restrictions we launched on dual-use items for Russia.”

Belarusians serving to Russia’s army operation would even be sanctioned, she mentioned.

Von der Leyen mentioned the choice to offer funding for the acquisition and supply of arms to Ukraine was “a watershed second for our Union”.

Borrell mentioned he would “suggest to make use of the European Peace Facility for emergency help measures to finance the provision of deadly materials to the Ukrainian military, in addition to badly wanted gas, protecting gear and medical provides”.

“We’re doing this as a result of this conflict requires our engagement with a purpose to help the Ukrainian military – as a result of we reside in unprecedented occasions,” he mentioned.

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