BRUSSELS: With the illegal “referenda” organised by Russia, the Kremlin is following the same playbook that we have already seen in Georgia in 2008 and in Crimea in 2014.
As the President has said, we condemn [these illegal “referenda”] in the strongest possible terms. I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the Member States of the European Union that none of them will recognise their falsified outcome, and we call on the international community to do the same, because these sham “referenda” are a pure violation of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
We will continue supporting Ukraine. We stay on course. Our strategy is working, our sanctions are having a compelling effect.
As the President has explained, with the extension of the list of products that will be banned from export to Russia, we will continue weakening their military capabilities.
Also, from a personal [sanctions] point of view, we are increasing the listings of persons and entities which have been sanctioned. There are more than 1,300 people or entities. This list targets key decision makers, oligarchs, senior military officials and propagandists, responsible for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
In direct response to the latest Russian escalation – for example, calling 300,000 soldiers to the war – we propose to adopt additional restrictive measures against those individuals who are supporting, facilitating or benefiting from the invasion of Ukraine.
Allow me, Madam President, to summarise the new package of individual designations that will target the following people:
First, those involved in Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of areas of Ukraine. We propose to designate the proxy Russian authorities in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia and other Russian individuals who organised and facilitated the sham “referenda” in these four occupied areas of Ukraine.
Second, we propose a number of designations in the defence sector. This includes high-ranking officials of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Those who support the Russian armed forces by providing army equipment and weapons, including missiles and fighter aircraft, and participate in the recruitment of these 300,000 soldiers.
Third, we also continue to target actors who spread disinformation about the war – in particular, those spreading false information and donating funds to Russian occupied areas [of Ukraine].
In the category of economic actors, a lot of has been done already, but we will add further key operators. Among these operators, it will be – not necessarily Russians – but people who participate in the circumvention of sanctions. Because it is clear that there are some phenomena of circumvention of sanctions that have to be included in our listings. We are preparing the listings in order to also target these people.
Finally, it is also important to note that we extend the geographical scope of the restrictions applying to Crimea, to Donetsk and Luhansk that were approved at the beginning of the year. This will cover all non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the oblasts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – which are not part of Donbas and were not part of the previous decisions.
I think, Madam President, that with that we complete our package of sanctions.
Sanctions work, sanctions matter but they have to be maintained over time and ensure that they are not circumvented.