The European Union will shut down its airspace to Russian aircraft and ban Russian state-owned media in the bloc, in addition to stepping up support to Ukraine and targeting Moscow ally Belarus with sanctions, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.
“We are stepping up our support for Ukraine. For the first time ever, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country under attack… We are also strengthening our sanctions against the Kremlin,” she told reporters in a press conference.
The EU will shut down its airspace for Russian owned, Russian registered and Russian controlled aircraft, including aircraft owned by Russian oligarchs.
The EU will also ban the “Kremlin’s media machine,” this entails banning state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik and their subsidiaries.
“[RT and Sputnik] will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war and to sow division in our union,” she said.
Von der Leyen also announced that the EU will “target the other aggressor,” namely Russian ally Belarus with sanctions.
“[Belarus President Alexander] Lukashenko’s regime is complicit in the vicious attack against Ukraine. So we will hit Lukashenko’s regime with a new package of sanctions,” she said, adding that the sanctions will target a variety of sectors, restricting their exports from mineral fuel to tobacco, wooden timbre, iron and steel.
The EU will also sanction Belarusian individuals helping the Russian war effort.
The new sanctions come on top of the measures announced by the EU on Saturday, including excluding main Russian banks from the SWIFT system, and banning the transactions of Russia’s central bank and freezing its assets, in addition to targeting the assets of Russian oligarchs.
Russia’s began its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday bringing explosions and setting off air raid sirens in Kyiv and other cities, and leading to dozens of Ukrainian casualties both civilian and military.
Putin ordered earlier on Sunday Russian nuclear forces on high alert, citing NATO’s “aggressive [and] illegitimate sanctions” against Russia as the cause.