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EU chief: Russia could be cut off from tech markets and products

A senior European Union official says Russia will see its access to financial markets and high-tech products restricted under Western sanctions being prepared in case it attacks Ukraine

The comments from Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive commission, came as tensions over Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine escalated. US President Joe Biden said on Friday he was convinced that “Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade the neighboring country”.

“The Kremlin’s dangerous thinking, which comes straight from a dark past, could cost Russia a prosperous future,” von der Leyen said Saturday at the annual Munich security conference, where the US vice president Kamala Harris also spoke out.

Von der Leyen said the EU’s executive branch had worked out a “strong and comprehensive package” of financial sanctions with the US, UK and Canada.

“In the event of a Russian strike, we will limit access to financial markets for the Russian economy and (impose) export controls that will prevent Russia from modernizing and diversifying its economy,” she said. added. “And we have a lot of high-tech products where we have global dominance, which are absolutely necessary for Russia and cannot be replaced easily.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that in a Tuesday meeting with Putin he “made it clear that any further violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity would have high costs for Russia, politically, economically and geostrategic”.

“And at the same time, I emphasized that diplomacy will not fail because of us,” Scholz added. “As much diplomacy as possible without being naive is our aspiration, and we use all communication channels for this.”

So far, Western leaders have not specified what precise Russian action would trigger sanctions. A French official who was not authorized to be named publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity after Biden spoke with several counterparts on Friday said they were talking about an invasion of territory currently under the control of the Kyiv government.

“It is in the event of an invasion of this territory that … the massive sanctions that we are talking about would be triggered,” the official said.

Parts of eastern Ukraine have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists who have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014, the year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.


Geir Moulson reported from Berlin. Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.


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