EU cracks down on Russia AND Belarus with major penalties and first ever weapons financing

Ursula von der Leyen announces new Russian sanctions

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced unprecedented EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus this afternoon. She announced an immediate shut down of EU airspace to all Russian planes and confirmed that the EU will finance weaponry for another country for the first time ever. This will see the EU purchase and finance weapons to Ukraine, as Ms Von der Leyen praised “the outstanding resilience of the Ukrainian people”.

She said: “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.”

The EU chief also commended the “bravery” of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in the face of Russian aggression.

The bloc is also moving to ban “the Kremlin’s media machine in the EU”.

This means that the state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, “will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war”.

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The dramatic escalation is the clearest sign yet that the EU has moved to get tough on the Kremlin after its invasion of Ukraine.

In her announcement, Ms von der Leyen pointedly noted that the closure of EU airspace to Russia “includes the private jets of oligarchs”.

She turned to Belarus, saying: “We will target the other aggressor in this war, Lukashenko’s regime, with a new package of sanctions, hitting their most important sectors.”

Ms von der Leyen said that President Lukashenko‘s regime in Belarus was “complicit in the vicious attack” against Ukraine.

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The Ukrainian interior ministry reported that short-range missiles were launched from Belarus to Ukraine this afternoon.

The move follows the joint decision yesterday from the US, UK, EU and Canada to block Swift access for some Russian banks.

On Saturday, Ms von der Leyen said: “The European Union and its partners are working to cripple Putin’s ability to finance his war machine.”

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She remarked that the latest raft of measures will “significantly harm Putin’s ability to finance his war”.

Earlier today, President Putin ramped up his rhetoric again as he ordered his military to put the country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert.

In televised comments, the Russian president said: “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country”.

So far, Russia has struggled to seize control of any major population centres amid stubborn resistance from Ukrainian armed forces.

Russia’s forces have launched missile strikes and military assaults against Kyiv, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities but have been repeatedly repelled by armed Ukrainians. 

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