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On Ukraine, EU Leaders Discuss Today’s Escalation at Urgent Summit in Brussels

On Ukraine, EU Leaders Discuss Today’s Escalation at Urgent Summit in Brussels

European Union (EU) heads of state and government will discuss this Thursday (24 February), the worsening conflict between Russia and Ukraine, at an extraordinary summit in Brussels called urgently by the European Council president.

The extraordinary face-to-face summit, scheduled to begin at 20:00 Brussels time, was called in the light of escalating tensions after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Monday night a decree recognizing the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk in the Donbass (eastern Ukraine) and ordering the deployment of the Russian army on a “peacekeeping” mission to these pro-Russian separatist territories.

The EU reacted promptly, with the adoption of a package of sanctions targeted at Moscow, agreed by the foreign ministers of the 27 on Tuesday, but the president of the European Council still saw fit to convene a summit of leaders for a discussion at the highest level on the latest developments in the crisis to the east and the threat of a new war in Europe.

“The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the 21st century. I am convening a special European Council for tomorrow [Thursday] in Brussels to discuss the latest developments related to Ukraine and Russia,” Charles Michel wrote on his official Twitter social network account when announcing the summit on Wednesday (23 February).

In the letter of invitation addressed to leaders, including Prime Minister António Costa, the President of the European Council begins by thanking the 27 “for the unity shown in recent days, notably through the rapid adoption of the sanctions package” on Russia.

Reiterating that “aggressive actions by the Russian Federation violate international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine” and “also undermine the European security order”, Charles Michel says it is important that the 27 remain “united and determined, to define together the collective approach and actions” to the current situation.

The President of the European Council specifies that the aim of this extraordinary summit is to discuss “the latest developments”, how the EU can “protect the rules-based international order”, “how to deal with Russia, including holding it accountable for its actions”, and “how to continue to support Ukraine and its people”.

The convening of this extraordinary European Council came on the same day that the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union definitively adopted the sanctions against Russia approved by the foreign ministers of the 27 on Tuesday.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and two private Russian banks are among the targets of the sanctions, which cover 27 individuals and entities from the political, military, business and media sectors, as well as some 350 members of the lower house of the Russian parliament (State Duma).

As regards financial sanctions, these include restrictions on the EU’s economic relations with the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the freezing of assets of two private Russian banks and limits on the Russian state’s ability to access EU capital and financial markets.

Putin’s decision to recognize the two self-proclaimed republics and thus open the door to sending military forces into Ukrainian territory was condemned by most Western countries, which had for months feared that Russia would invade Ukraine again, after it annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

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EU leaders already discussed the crisis in the east face-to-face last week in Brussels in an informal meeting just before the EU-Africa summit, and the President of the European Council decided to schedule this summit as a matter of urgency in view of this week’s developments, which have heightened fears of a full-scale military conflict.

Source: Diário Económico


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