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EU to hit Russia with new sanctions

European Union leaders will impose new sanctions on Russia, freezing its assets, halting access of its banks to the European financial market and targeting “Kremlin interests” over its “barbaric attack” on Ukraine, senior officials said on Thursday.

This morning Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized “a special military operation in Ukraine.”

“President Putin is responsible for bringing war back to Europe,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said, adding that the EU would hold him accountable.

“With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets,” she said in an emergency statement. “We will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernize.

“In addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market,” she added.

The EU approved a first round of sanctions on Wednesday, including blacklisting Russian politicians and curbing trade between the EU and two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine whose independence Putin has recognized. 

The new measures, to be discussed at an evening summit of national EU leaders starting at 1900 GMT, will be “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented”, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said.

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