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Von der Leyen condemns 'barbaric' invasion of Ukraine, vows to cripple Russia's economy

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By Euronews
President von der Leyen said Putin was to blame for "bringing war back to Europe."
President von der Leyen said Putin was to blame for "bringing war back to Europe."   -   Copyright  Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP or licensors

The European Union will impose a "massive and targeted" raft of sanctions on Russia that will block access to "key technologies" and cripple the country's ability to finance the Ukraine invasion, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

"We will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets. We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise. In addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market," she said.

"We are closely aligned with partners and allies. These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin's interests and on their ability to finance the war."

The EU has already imposed sanctions on 27 individuals and entities close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the 351 Duma lawmakers who voted to recognise the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.

Von der Leyen delivered a short statement on Thursday morning in response to Russia's decision to launch an attack against Ukraine, a turning point that puts further pressure on EU leaders to deliver a more forceful and radical response.

The Commission chief put the blame squarely on President Putin for "bringing war back to Europe."

"Once again, in the centre of Europe, innocent women, men and children are dying or fear for their lives. We condemn this barbaric attack, and the cynical arguments used to justify it," she said with a sombre tone.

"Russia's target is not just Donbas, the target is not just Ukraine, the target is stability in Europe and the whole international rules-based order. For that, we will hold Russia accountable."

Von der Leyen also said Putin was "trying to turn back the clock to the times of the Russian empire" and "putting at risk the future of the Russian people."

"We will not let President Putin tear down the security architecture that has given Europe peace and stability over the past decades. We will not allow President Putin to replace the rule of law with the rule of force and ruthlessness. He should not underestimate the resolve and strength of our democracies," she declared.

"History has proven: Societies and alliances built on trust and freedom are resilient and successful. And this is exactly what autocrats fear," she added.

"Ukraine will prevail."

EU leaders are set to meet later today in Brussels to discuss a new sanctions regime and iron out differences between member states. The meeting will be in person and is scheduled to start at 20:00 CET.