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25th May 2022

Allies show unity ahead of imposing more Russia sanctions

  • US state secretary Anthony Blinken (l) and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell arriving to the council meeting on Friday (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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Foreign ministers from the EU-27, plus the UK, Canada, and US met in Brussels on Friday (4 March) in a show of transatlantic unity after a week in which they imposed crippling sanctions that are effectively designed to crash the Russian economy.

The ministers were joined by their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba via video link from Kyiv, a city now almost completely encircled by Russian invading forces.

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Kuleba has been pleading for Western powers to close off Ukraine air space.

Arriving at the meeting, Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said the ministers were not signing off on a new package of sanctions, but he did say that another package is coming and would be agreed early next week.

"Today is about a show of unity, and engagement," he said. The EU and its partners were "disgusted and outraged" by Russia's actions, he said.

"Unity with our partners and allies are our biggest strength," Croatian foreign minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on arrival.

Coveney stressed there was a"determination to continue to isolate Russia internationally, not just in Europe."

Nuclear red flag

The strike that hit Europe's largest nuclear facility Thursday night raised a "new red flag," Coveney said.

The threat such attacks create "is not just about Ukraine and Russia, but all of us who live on the continent of Europe."

The new round of sanction was likely to affect ports, oligarchs' families and trust funds, EU sources said, who were not authorised to speak on the record.

The plan could stop ships from entering EU ports; the bloc already has halted Russian planes from using EU airspace.

Diplomats are looking for ways to shield European economies as much as possible from the blowback of such sanctions especially in light of already tight global energy supplies.

Friday's meeting included US state of secretary Antony Blinken, Canadian foreign minister Canada Mélanie Joly, and Liz Truss — the first time a UK foreign secretary had joined an EU meeting since the UK left the EU.

Blinken used the meeting as a rallying cry.

What was at risk were "very fundamental principles that we have established together after two world wars, that are so important to keeping peace and security for everyone," he said.

Blinken warned that if Putin was allowed to continue acting with impunity, that "would open a Pandora's box of troubles for the entire world."

Blinken also praised the EU's speedy response to the war, including sanctions on Russia and support for Ukraine, as "remarkable" and "historic."

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