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Politics

EU Zooms In on Tighter Russia Sanctions; Backs Ukraine Aid

BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers are zooming in Monday on tightening the extensive package of sanctions on Russia and looking at ways to add a ban on gold exports in hopes that the measures might finally start to have a decisive impact on the war in Ukraine.

The EU ministers also made a commitment to add another 500 millions euros in military aid to Ukraine’s war chest to beef up the defense of the nation.

The decision came after a video debriefing on the latest developments through a video conference by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said he was “grateful” for the new funds, which brings the EU total to 2.5 billion euros but still urged the 27 nations to provide more.

“If anything needs to be continued, it is weapons deliveries,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, insisting it was also essential to secure the port of Odesa enough to make sure grain shipments could resume. “And anybody who can who can do that, obviously, this is the main industrial countries of of the Western world. They have to step up with that.”

From left, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib and Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn attend a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, July 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

On restrictive measures, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that at the moment “the most important thing is a ban on Russian gold,” which is Moscow’s second-largest export industry after energy. The Group of Seven leading industrial nations last month already committed to a gold ban, arguing that Russia has used its gold to back up its currency to circumvent the impact of several rounds of sanctions that nations around the world had already imposed on Moscow after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The 27 EU ministers will also assess how they can tighten controls on exports of high technology to Russia for a possible decision later in the week.

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