In a statement European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, the EU could lay sanctions on Moscow if it were to invade Ukraine. The EU would cut off Russia from the international financial markets and deny access to major export goods.
Until now western leaders have not detailed their responses to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, while ruling out a military response; they have however made it clear that economic sanctions would be unprecedented in scale.
“Russia would in principle be cut off from the international financial markets,” said Von der Leyen to ARD public television late on Sunday.
Sanctions would be imposed on “all goods we make that Russia urgently needs to modernise and diversify its economy, where we are globally dominant and they have no replacement,” said Von der Leyen.
Saying sanctions would be imposed only after any invasion, Von der Leyen rejected calls by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for immediate sanctions.
“The move to sanctions is so enormous and consequential that we know we must always give Russia a chance to return to diplomacy and the negotiating table,” she said. “This window is still open.”
Russia, which has stationed around 150,000 soldiers around Ukraine’s northern and eastern borders, is demanding a guarantee that Ukraine be never allowed into NATO since it is essential to Russia’s long-term security.
“They make up two thirds of its exports, and half of the Russia budget comes from them,” said Von der Leyen in referring to Russia’s reliance on fossil fuel exports.
Russia needs to modernize, and that “precisely would no longer be possible” if further sanctions were raised.