EU to sanction Putin personally – Austria
The European Union has agreed on a "toughest ever" package of sanctions against Russia, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. He says it will directly target President Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
However, speaking on Friday afternoon, he said that Brussels will not impose travel restrictions that would ban the two officials from visiting the 27-member bloc as “that would not be appropriate if we wanted to give negotiations a chance.”
"This is the biggest package of sanctions,” the Austrian chancellor explained. “It will be partly painful for us.”
However, he claimed that the punitive measures will deal a heavy blow to the Russian economy.
The move comes after Russia launched a military attack in Ukraine on Thursday morning. It followed a request from the leaders of the two breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics requested assistance to counter what they believe is a sharp uptick in “Ukrainian aggression.”
Putin insisted that Moscow has “no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory," but said that he wanted to "demilitarize" Ukraine.
Shortly after his televised address, a series of explosions struck sites across the Eastern European nation, with military instillations and airfields as prime targets.
On Friday afternoon, Ukrainian defense sources said that Moscow's troops had reached the suburbs of Kiev and reports of gunfire had also rang out near the government quarter in the capital. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that it had blockaded Kiev from the west.
A handful of Western nations have hit Moscow with sanctions in response to its onslaught against the Eastern European nation. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden revealed a wave of embargoes that are designed to hinder Russia’s ability to do business in major currencies, as well as punitive measures against banks and state-owned enterprises.
"This is a premeditated attack," Biden told reporters at the White House. "Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences."
On the same day, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned what she described as “barbaric” military action and vowed to “present a package of massive, targeted sanctions.”
“The sanctions will target strategic sectors of Russia’s economy. We will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop access of Russian banks to our financial market. This is designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin’s ability to finance war,” she said.