The European Commission has announced a new package of sanctions against Russia following widespread outrage over sham referendums held in Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
“The sham referenda organized in the territories that Russia occupied are an illegal attempt to grab land or to change international borders by force. The mobilization and Putin threat to use nuclear weapons are further steps on the escalation path,” the EU Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday.
“We do not accept the sham referenda and any kind of annexation in Ukraine, and we’re determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation.”
Von der Leyen also confirmed that the new package – the eighth passed by the Commission so far – would see over 1,300 Russian individuals and entities hit, and that Russian trade would be further restricted, with new import bans on various Russian products.
“This will keep Russian products out of the European market and deprive Russia of an additional 7 billion euros in revenues,” she added.
In a statement delivered in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the new sanctions list “targets key decision makers, oligarchs, senior military officials and propagandists, responsible for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Borell added that the new sanctions will target “those involved in Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of areas of Ukraine,” including “the proxy Russian authorities in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia and other Russian individuals who organized and facilitated the sham referenda in these four occupied territories of Ukraine.”
Borell confirmed that high ranking officials in the Russian Ministry of Defense would also be targeted, including Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“We also continue to target actors who spread disinformation about the war – in particular, those spreading false information and donating funds to the Russian occupied areas,” he said.
The EU foreign policy chief stressed that “a lot has been done already” and promised that the EU would “extend the geographical scope of the restrictions applying to Crimea, to Donetsk and Luhansk, that were approved at the beginning of the year.”
“And this will cover all non-governmental control areas of Ukraine, including the oblasts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – which are not part of Donbas and were not part of the previous decisions.”
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