U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with leaders of the European Union on Friday, pledging with them to keep pressuring Russia with sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine, saying Russia’s aggression is a threat relevant to the entire world.
Following a similar meeting with NATO allies in Brussels, Blinken attended a special EU foreign ministers meeting. Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, the top U.S. diplomat said what is at risk with Russia’s invasion — along with the lives of Ukrainians — are fundamental principles of peace and security that the world established during two world wars, which Russian President Vladimir Putin “is egregiously violating every single day.”
Following the ministerial meeting, Blinken and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen met with reporters.
Von der Leyen ran through a series of sanctions on Russia’s financial system, which she said would cut off Russia’s central bank from a significant share of its reserves to bolster the plummeting ruble, the nation’s currency. As a result, the bank has had to raise interest rates by 20%, driving up inflation.
Action against commercial banks
Meanwhile, the country’s commercial banks have been cut off from global markets and from SWIFT, the worldwide interbank communications system, curtailing their ability to finance the economy.
Unfortunately and tragically, Blinken said, the war in Ukraine is not likely to be over soon, but the measures Von der Leyen announced must be sustained "until it stops, until the war is over, [and] the Russian forces leave.” He said both U.S. and EU officials were committed to doing that.
Blinken said Russia’s actions could not go unanswered.
"If we allow those principles to be violated with impunity, then we're opening a Pandora's box in every corner of the world for this to happen again and again and again,” he said.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.