EU leaders announced tough new sanctions on Russia on Sunday, such as closing the entirety of EU airspace to Russian planes – including private jets – and banning Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik, which European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called “the Kremlin’s media machine”.
The UN Security Council on Sunday called for a rare emergency special session of the 193-member General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, set for Monday, as western allies step up a diplomatic campaign to isolate Moscow. The vote by the 15-member council was procedural, so Russia could not wield its veto. EU leaders announced a raft of tough new sanctions on Russia on Sunday, such as closing the entirety of EU airspace to Russian planes, including private jets used by oligarchs, and banning Russian state media outlets. Speaking beside EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Russia Today and Sputnik “will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union”. Von der Leyen also said the bloc was taking the unprecedented step of financing €450 million in arms to Ukraine and introducing restrictions on exports from Russian ally Belarus. The EU must be ready to expect more than 7 million Ukrainian refugees, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said after a special meeting in Brussels on Sunday. “We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years,” he said. Ukraine on Sunday said it would hold talks with Russia at its border with Belarus after a phone call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. “The politicians agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet the Russian one without preconditions at the Ukraine-Belarus border near the Pripyat River,” Zelensky’s office said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert on Sunday, citing “aggressive statements” by NATO powers and harsh financial sanctions. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the move a “totally unacceptable” escalation while the White House said Putin was “manufacturing threats” with the order. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg criticised Putin’s “dangerous rhetoric”, adding: “This is a behavior which is irresponsible.” Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia at the highest UN court in The Hague for disputes between states, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced at an extraordinary session of the Bundestag on Sunday that Germany would increase defence spending by €100 billion, fulfilling a 2006 pledge by NATO allies to dedicate 2% of GDP to the continent’s security. Ukrainian forces secured full control of Kharkiv on Sunday following street fighting with Russian troops in the country’s second-biggest city, the local governor said. The US, Britain, Europe and Canada moved to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payment system as part of another round of economic sanctions against Moscow. The Élysée Palace announced Saturday that France would take action against Russian disinformation and send defensive weapons to Ukraine while Germany approved the delivery of 400 anti-tank rocket launchers. More than 368,000 Ukrainians have fled, mostly to Poland and Moldova, according to the UN refugee agency.Follow our liveblog below. If updates do not appear, please refresh the page.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)