Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with NATO

Brussels. 24 February 2022. “We are at a watershed moment. And the three of us, standing here together, is yet more proof of how closely the European Union and NATO are responding to the Kremlin’s actions. The world can see that unity is our strength.

Early this morning, President Putin ordered atrocious acts of aggression against a sovereign and independent country, and innocent people. We will hold Russia accountable for this outrageous violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And what is at stake is not just Donbas, it is not just Ukraine. What is at stake is the stability of Europe and the whole international order, our peace order. President Putin chose to bring war back to Europe. In a determined and united response, the European Union will make it as difficult as possible for the Kremlin to pursue its aggressive actions.

Round about 30 minutes ago, I had a phone call with President Zelenskyy. He asked us for whatever the different stakeholders can do for help. We will later today present a package of massive and targeted sanctions to European Leaders for their approval. We are coordinated closely with our partners and allies – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Norway, but also, for example, Japan and Australia.

This package will include financial sanctions that harshly limit Russia’s access to the capital markets. These sanctions will have a heavy impact. Russia’s economy has already faced intensive pressure in the recent weeks. And these pressures will now accumulate. These sanctions will suppress Russia’s economic growth; increase the borrowing costs; raise inflation; intensify capital outflows; and gradually erode its industrial base.

The second main pillar of our sanctions concerns limiting Russia’s access to crucial technology. We want to cut off Russia’s industry from the technologies desperately needed today to build a future. Our measures will weaken Russia’s technological position in key areas, actually from which the elite makes most of their money. And this ranges from high-tech components to cutting-edge software. This will also seriously degrade the Russian economy in all areas in the future. Let me be very clear: It is President Putin who will have to explain this to his citizens. I know that the Russian people do not want this war.

The European Union and NATO have worked in close complementarity, and this crisis will bring us even closer together. It is our shared duty to stand up to the gravest act of aggression on European soil in decades. Our unity is our best strength. The Kremlin understands this very well, and that is why they have tried their best to divide us, but they have achieved the exact opposite. We are more united and more determined than ever. We are one Union, one Alliance, united in purpose. Many thanks.”