EU Members Finalize Russian Sanctions, as Ukraine Becomes a Warzone

According to the EU’s top diplomat, foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss what penalties to implement in response to Russia’s decision to recognize two rebel areas in southeast Ukraine.

The summit in Paris, according to EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell, “will take the political choices vis-à-vis the European response.”

“Clearly, sanctions will be used as a reaction,” Borrell added. He stated that the goal is not to implement the whole range of EU sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, but rather to address the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as separate republics.

“I wouldn’t say that’s a fully fledged invasion, but Russian forces are on Ukrainian land,” Borrell said when asked if Russia’s decision to put “peacekeepers” in already amounts to an invasion.

Russia’s designation of the Ukrainian separatist areas of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics and deployment of soldiers into the territories, according to a top European Union official, is a “act of war.”

The European Commission’s Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders, stated that the EU’s 27-nation bloc is prepared to impose sanctions on Russia.

Reynders told Belgian television RTBF that fresh measures would require a unanimous agreement from EU member nations.

According to him, the planned steps will be phased in over time, depending on Russian activities. Individual travel restrictions and penalties against economic enterprises via asset seizure in Europe and overseas are the first two categories.

“It will be required to guarantee that no more Russian products or services, such as energy, are imported, and that Russia’s worldwide access to financial services is stopped,” Reynders added.

“Everything is on the table,” he added, adding that member states were debating how gradual the changes should be and whether diplomacy might help resolve the problem.

According to a British Cabinet Member, Russia has initiated an invasion of Ukraine, and the United Kingdom will retaliate with sanctions later Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has deployed in tanks and troops” to two separatist areas of eastern Ukraine that he recognized on Monday, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

“We are waking up to a very gloomy day in Europe,” Javid told Sky News, “and it’s evident from what we’ve already seen and learned today that the Russians, President Putin, has decided to assault Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“We’ve seen that he’s recognized these separatist eastern parts of Ukraine, and we can already know from reports that he’s dispatched tanks and troops.” As a result, you might deduce that the invasion of Ukraine has started.”

He stated that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would speak to Parliament about further measures against Russia later. The British government says it is working with the European Union to coordinate its reaction.

The decision by Russia to recognize the rebel areas of Luhansk and Donetsk as separate republics was criticised by Nordic politicians on Tuesday, who said Moscow had violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “A clear breach of international law,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister, Jepp Kofod, termed Russia’s action “damaging” and asked Moscow to “cease its violation of international law.”

President Sauli Niinisto of Finland stated that the country will reply in lockstep with the European Union, of which it is a member. The action by Russia “clearly breaches the spirit and the language of the Minsk agreements,” according to Norway, a non-EU member.

Singapore expressed its “deep worry” over the escalation of tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border and Russia’s “determination to recognize two separatist Ukrainian regions” on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry stated, “Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity must be maintained.”

It went on to say that the disagreement should be resolved via discussion and diplomacy in conformity with international law, and that no action should be taken that might exacerbate regional tensions.

Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, held an emergency conference of top government military and foreign policy officials to discuss the issue on Tuesday, sharply condemning Moscow’s recognition of two separatist republics in Ukraine.

“Russia’s recognition of the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s illegal and unilateral declaration of ‘independence’ is a clear violation of fundamental principles of international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the Minsk agreements,” a Foreign Ministry statement said. “We have frequently said that Greece supports respect for all states’ territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence, and opposes any action that violates these basic principles of international law.”

Greece, a NATO member, has long had cordial relations with Russia.

Ukraine’s U.N. envoy has demanded that Russia revoke its recognition of separatist territories in the east, withdraw its “occupation forces” dispatched there by President Vladimir Putin, and resume talks.

Sergiy Kyslytsya told a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on Monday that Ukraine convened the unusual nighttime session to protest and denounce Putin’s “illegal and illegitimate” recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which he said violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Regardless of any words and acts by the Russian Federation,” he stated, Ukraine’s boundaries “shall stay unchanged.”

Russia’s control of Donetsk and Luhansk, he said, ruins bargaining frameworks and “may be deemed” a unilateral departure from the Minsk Agreements aimed at restoring peace to eastern Ukraine.

“We are dedicated to a political diplomatic conclusion and will not be provoked,” Kyslytsya stated.

“We are dedicated to a peaceful and diplomatic road and will continue firmly on it,” he added, adding that Ukraine has the right to self-defense. We’ve arrived on our own turf. We don’t have any fears about anything or anyone. We owe no one anything and will not give anything away to anyone.”

Kyslytsya encouraged the Security Council to assist Ukraine and take measures to restore world peace and security, but due to Russia’s veto power in the council, this will be nearly difficult.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russian troops will be stationed in separatist areas of eastern Ukraine as peacekeepers has been dismissed by the US ambassador to the UN as “nonsense,” saying their presence is “clearly the basis for Russia’s attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.”

This move, along with Putin’s earlier announcement that Russia will recognize the separatist areas as “independent states,” is a “unprovoked” attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who spoke at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday night. Putin, she claimed, had “ripped the Minsk Agreement to bits” as a result of his actions.

Putin “has presented the world with an option,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that the world “must not look away” because “history shows us that looking the other way in the face of such aggression would be a far more costly route.”

Putin is trying “how far he can push us all,” she added, adding that all countries must defend their sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

“The implications of Russia’s actions will be terrible – across Ukraine, across Europe, and throughout the globe,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

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