Close coordination between the European Union and the United States has allowed the deployment of sanctions against Russia in record time, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on 4 March as she welcomed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels.
“With these measures, the [Russian] Central Bank cannot use a significant share of its reserves to defend the rouble, now in free fall,” von der Leyen said. “The Central Bank has had to raise interest rates to 20%, stoking inflation. Significant commercial banks are cut-off from global markets and from SWIFT, curtailing their ability to finance the economy. The stock exchange in Moscow remains closed since the beginning of this week. One after another, Western companies announce their own measures, stopping production, investment and sales.”
She said EU-US cooperation was at the core of this effective response, and has pulled together an ever-growing number of countries that apply identical or similar sanctions – “Our G7 partners, UK, Canada and Japan, but also countries like Norway, Switzerland, South Korea, Australia. By now, over 40 countries partially or completely aligned with our sanctions.”
The Commission President said the European Union and the United States would continue to stand by Ukraine. “The scale of the humanitarian catastrophe, there, in Ukraine, that is unfolding, really worries us. Europe is seeing destruction and displacement on a scale not seen since the darkest days of the last century.”
She said the EU was providing €500 million of humanitarian aid immediately, with more to come. “We are working fast to establish civil protection hubs in Poland, in Slovakia and in Romania. And we are also doing everything we can, with international organisations and NGOs, to set up humanitarian corridors that stretch inside Ukraine.”
Von der Leyen added that the EU had for the first time triggered the Temporary Protection Directive, which effectively opens up residency rights for most refugees to live and work in the European Union, to have access to health services orschools for at least a year.
“We know that this conflict is far from over. And to be very clear, we are ready to take further severe measures if Putin does not stop and reverse the war he has unleashed. We are determined, we are united.”
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