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EU Toughens Russia Sanctions, Freezing Putin, Lavrov Assets 


The measures are at the heart of the EU’s latest round of sanctions targeting Russian individuals and companies that were agreed at an emergency summit of foreign ministers on Friday in Brussels.

The EU has said that while the sanctions are the toughest ever imposed on Russia, they still leave room for further responses if Moscow does not abandon its campaign against Ukraine.

“We have hit Putin’s system where it needs to be hit, not only economically and financially but in terms of power. That’s why we not only put oligarchs, numerous MPs who prepared these steps on the list, but now we also include President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov,” said German Minister Annalena Baerbock.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said upon his arrival at the meeting that the second package of sanctions approved on Friday “will not be enough” and that “we will have to continue” taking measures, initially targeting Russian oligarchs as well as the pro-Russian regime of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

He also advocated providing long-term assistance to Ukrainians, through military equipment, support to those in exile and to neighboring countries “given the brutality of Putin’s action.”

“What I see in this brutal offensive is that the Donbas was nothing more than an excuse,” Le Drian said, stressing that what is taking place is a “combat by Russian forces and Putin against democracy and the sovereignty of states.”

The latest measures will be added to the “massive and targeted” sanctions that will have a “maximum impact on the Russian economy and political elite,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press conference in the early hours of Friday.

Announcing the highlights of the package, von der Leyen said Russia’s access to the most important capital markets would be cut.

“We are now targeting 70 percent of the Russian banking market, but also key state-owned companies, including in the field of defense. These sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, increase inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base,” she said.

The deposits of Russian oligarchs will also be targeted “so that they cannot hide their money anymore in safe havens in Europe,” she added.

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