On Wednesday, members of the European Parliament discussed the latest developments in the war against Ukraine and called for further sanctions against Russia, additional support for Ukraine and for reducing the EU’s energy dependency. They were addressed by the European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and EU High Representative Josep Borrell.
Charles Michel sent a direct message to the Russian soldiers involved in war crimes, saying: “If you want no part in killing your Ukrainian brothers and sisters, if you have no desire to be a criminal, then lay down your arms, stop fighting, leave the battlefield.”
Endorsing an idea previously circulated by some EU lawmakers, Michel added that granting asylum to Russian deserters is “a valuable idea that should be pursued”.
He said the EU was moving on a new package of sanctions that would include a ban on coal imports, but added: “Measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “humanity itself was killed in Bucha”, that the perpetrators must pay, and that they will be held accountable. With regard to the new package of sanctions against Russia, she said that the pressure on Putin must be further increased, to limit the Kremlin’s political and economic options. “Those sanctions will not be our last sanctions”, President von der Leyen said, stressing that “we must look into oil” and that Russia’s fossil fuel revenue stream must end.
Josep Borrell said Ukraine needed more arms so they could defend themselves against Russia: “We have to help [the Ukrainians] defend themselves… We have given Ukraine €1 billion. It might seem a lot but €1 billion is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he provides us,” he said, adding the EU had spent €35 billion on Russian fuel since the start of the war.
“We have to reduce our energy dependence: for once, climate change and geopolitics go hand in hand,” he added.
Commenting on the last EU-China Summit, Borrell said that it was more the dialogue of the deaf with no concrete results: “China wanted to set aside our differences on Ukraine – they did not want to talk about Ukraine. They did not want to talk about human rights, and other issues, and instead focus on the positive things. The European side made clear that this “compartmentalisation” is not feasible, not acceptable”.
MEPs welcomed the fifth EU sanctions package presented on 5 April, but all speakers demanded that the EU go further, with several proposing an immediate oil embargo. MEPs called for a complete ban on the use by Russian banks of the SWIFT system and bringing a wider group of oligarchs under the EU’s sanctions regime.
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