EU prepares to freeze assets of Putin and Lavrov

The EU is preparing to freeze the assets of Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov under a new sanctions package, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Foreign ministers hope to approve the sanctions package this afternoon, along with a number of measures against Russian banks and industry, the people said.

Putin and Lavrov will not be subject to a ban on traveling under the measures, underlining the EU’s willingness to keep symbolic diplomatic possibilities open.

The move comes as the EU prepares to sign off on its second package of restrictions on Russia in the space of three days. The other recent proposals would freeze some transactions with a wide range of Russian banks, at least a number of state-owned companies from launching new listings on stock exchanges in the bloc and stop Russian nationals from making large deposits in EU banks.

The EU is under pressure to step up its pressure on Putin as he intensifies his assault on Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, on Friday criticized Europe for not imposing deep enough sanctions on Moscow, calling on Putin to negotiate in order to “stop the death”.

Addressing the nation on television, Zelensky said: “The German chancellor yesterday talked about the invasion of Ukraine, that Europe had not seen anything like this for 75 years. But this is not the entire truth. This is not only Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the beginning of a war against Europe. Against European solidarity. Against elementary rights of European people. ”

EU leaders gave the political go-ahead for the second sanctions package in a late-night extraordinary summit session in Brussels.

Speaking after the meetings in the early hours of Friday morning, Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, said she expected the measures, when finalized, to have “maximum impact on the Russian economy and on the political elite.”

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