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Ursula von der Leyen: latest package of sanctions also targets the energy sector

US President Joe Biden has announced the newest sanctions against Russia after President Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine.

Together with the G7 leaders, they will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen to be part of the global economy. 

“In today’s actions, we have now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold around 1 trillion US dollars in assets,” President Biden explained. “We’ve cut off Russia’s largest bank — a bank that holds more than one-third of Russia’s banking assets by itself — cut it off from the US financial system. And today, we’re also blocking four more major banks. That means every asset they have in America will be frozen.”

However, among these sanctions, there is still not a mention of removing Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

“The sanctions that we have proposed on all their banks is of equal consequence — maybe more consequence than SWIFT,” stated President Biden. “It is always an option. But right now, that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take.”

“Not all possibilities for sanctions have been exhausted yet,” said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The pressure on Russia must increase.”

Following the Special meeting of the European Council of 24 February, President von der Leyen referred to the current events as a watershed moment for Europe.

“The European Union stands united,” she said, mentioning the latest package of massive and targeted sanctions European leaders approved yesterday night. “It will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite.”

Ursula von der Leyen explained that the package is built on five pillars, among which there is the energy sector, a key economic area, which especially benefits the Russian state.

“Our export ban will hit the oil by making it impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries, which gave actually Russia export revenues of 24 billion euros in 2019,” she underlined.

However, these measures cannot turn into higher energy prices for consumers.

“American oil and gas companies should not exploit this moment to hike their prices to raise profits,” underlined President Biden. “We are closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption. We have been coordinating with major oil-producing and consuming countries toward our common interest to secure global energy supplies.”

Both the US and EU leaders believe that this aggression will end up costing Russia dearly, economically and strategically and it will be “President Putin who will have to explain this to his citizens,” as said Ursula von der Leyen.

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