Russia will be hit with more and tougher EU sanctions if it militarily threatens Ukraine, the bloc’s chief Ursula von der Leyen warned on Tuesday.
“The European Union will respond appropriately to any further aggression including breaches of international law and any other malicious actions taken against us or our neighbours, including Ukraine,” she said in a videolink speech to EU ambassadors.
“This response will take the form of robust scaling-up and expansion of existing sanctions regimes. And on top of that, we are ready to take additional restrictive measures,” she said.
She did not specify what the additional measures might be, but some critics of Russia have been calling for Moscow to be kicked out of the Belgian-based SWIFT financial transaction network.
Von der Leyen emphasised the European Union’s “full and unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of this aggression” represented by what she called a “massive” Russian military buildup along Ukraine’s border.
“Currently, it is Russia’s deliberate choices and aggressive actions that continue to destabilise security in Europe,” she said.
EU nations have become increasingly persuaded that Russia is preparing a potential attack on Ukraine, a country that is outside the EU and NATO but which benefits from Western support.
Russia annexed part of Ukraine, Crimea, in 2014.
US President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin were to hold a high-stakes video call on the developments later Tuesday.
Washington has said it is ready to act against Moscow in the event of aggression against Ukraine, notably by boosting its military presence in Eastern Europe should Moscow invade.