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EU tightens Russian sanctions and buys weapons for Ukraine

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By Reuters
EU to close airspace to Russia, curb media, target Belarus
EU to close airspace to Russia, curb media, target Belarus   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

BRUSSELS -The European Union will tighten sanctions on Russia, target Russian ally Belarus with measures and fund weapons for Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia’s invasion, top EU officials said on Sunday.

“For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

She said the European Union would close its airspace to Russian aircraft, including the private jets of Russian oligarchs.

The bloc will ban Russian state-owned television network Russia Today and news agency Sputnik. Von der Leyen said this was to render them unable to “spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our Union”.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

For Russian ally Belarus, the European Union will impose a ban on imports of products from mineral fuels to tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel.

These come on top of a series of sanctions on Russia already unveiled, such as on its energy sector and the exclusion of certain Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system that dominates global payments.

The European Union will also finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to Ukraine.

“Another taboo has fallen. The taboo that the European Union was not providing arms in a war,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The bloc aims to spend 450 million euros ($507 million) of EU funds on weapons for Ukraine, a Commission source told Reuters, and a further 50 million euros on items such as medical supplies.

($1 = 0.8875 euros)