EU to announce sanctions targeting Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov

The EU will seek to freeze the foreign-held assets of Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, under a new sanctions package due to be finalised on Friday, foreign ministers have said.

The move is largely symbolic, as the Russian president is unlikely to have identifiable personal assets abroad, but it will be part of an attempt to highlight the EU’s resolve.

“I think we agree that Putin and Lavrov, as far as the freezing of assets is concerned, that we will find a consensus here,” said Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn.

Putin and Lavrov, who has been foreign minister since 2004, would not face travel bans as the EU wishes to maintain a diplomatic way through the crisis, ministers said.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, had accused Europe of not being hard or quick enough in sanctioning Russia earlier on Friday, urging citizens to compel their governments to do more to stop Putin’s invasion.

With Russian forces encircling Kyiv, Zelenskiy said the EU had the capacity to deter Russia from further aggression but that not enough was being done by the bloc and other western allies.

EU leaders had agreed in the early hours of Friday to impose a second tranche of measures designed to cripple the Russian economy. Foreign ministers are due to sign off on the new sanctions on Friday afternoon, with more banks, state-owned companies and individuals set to be targeted, along with key sectors of the Russian economy.

But the EU is holding back from blocking Russia from an international payments system through which it receives foreign currency or from personally targeting Putin with sanctions.

“Europe has enough strength to stop this aggression,” Zelenskiy said. “You still can stop this aggression. You have to act swiftly. We demand effective counteraction to the Russian Federation. Sanctions must be further strengthened.”

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is used by more than 11,000 financial…

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