Just two weeks ago in this parliament, we expressed our shock and horror. The martyrdom of Mariupol, crimes against the city, crimes against its people. And today we express our outrage at crimes against humanity – against innocent civilians – in Bucha and in many other cities. Yet more proof that Russian brutality against the people of Ukraine has no limits, yet more proof of war crimes, summary executions, bodies lying in the streets and mass graves. This is not a special operation, these are war crimes and we, the EU, will not turn our backs: we will look reality in the eye.
There must and there will be severe consequences for all those responsible, and we are already supporting every effort to collect the evidence. We will do absolutely everything we can to bring the perpetrators to justice. International justice will be served. And I have just one message for the Russian soldiers on the battlefield: if you want no part in killing your Ukrainian brothers and sisters, if you have no desire to be a criminal, then lay down your arms, stop fighting, leave the battlefield.
I know, dear Members of the Parliament, that some of you have suggested granting asylum for those Russian soldiers who disobey Russian orders. In my opinion, this is a valuable idea that should be pursued. Right now we must do everything in our power to make these atrocities stop. We are toughening our sanctions to maintain maximum pressure on the Kremlin.
During our last European Council meeting, we tasked the High Representative and the Commission with proposing additional sanctions to the Council. We must close the loopholes, we must target any attempt to circumvent sanctions, and we are ready to move quickly with further coordinated, robust sanctions. The new package includes a ban on coal imports, and I believe that measures on oil and even on gas will also be needed sooner or later. We will stop Russian vessels from entering EU ports and impose a ban on Russian and Belarussian road transport operators. We will impose a full transaction ban on more banks in order to further weaken Russia’s financial system, and we will coordinate our efforts with those of our friends in the G7.
President Biden and President Zelenskyy joined our last European Council meeting. President Biden’s presence and President Zelenskyy’s address both sent a clear message that our transatlantic partnership and our support for Ukraine is rock solid. We are more united than ever: united in sanctioning Russia, united in putting pressure on the Kremlin, united in providing as much support as we can for Ukraine. We are in this for the long haul, alongside the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, the UK and many other countries and friends around the world. We are ready to bear the costs of sanctions. And most importantly, our EU unity, our transatlantic unity and our determination are our main asset to end the war, stop these atrocities and help to rebuild Ukraine.
We will continue to provide Ukraine with political, financial, humanitarian and material support. We have agreed to develop a Ukraine solidarity trust fund. In the short term, this will help support the state of Ukraine. In the long term, it will provide massive investments to rebuild the economy and infrastructure.
This war is a human tragedy. Over 10 million people have fled the war in Ukraine. More than six million are internally displaced, while over four million have fled to the EU, mostly women and children. We are welcoming them with dignity and with solidarity because the Ukrainian people deserve our support. We will continue to offer them any assistance they need, including housing, education and healthcare. And we will pay particular attention to the most vulnerable women and children who could fall prey to traffickers.
The ‘Stand Up For Ukraine’ global pledging event in Warsaw on Saturday will help raise money and other support for refugees and internally displaced people. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone, and especially to the countries bordering Ukraine, for the solidarity they have shown: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
Rarely has the contrast between right and wrong been so stark. The war in Ukraine is a moment of truth and urgency for Europe.
More information: European Council