Von Der Leyen Says EU Cannot Appease Russia Over Ukraine, Putin Will 'Fail'
By RFE/RL September 14 2022
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the European Union must show "resolve, not appeasement" as it deal with Russia over its war with Ukraine.
Speaking at her annual state-of-the-union speech on September 14 in Strasbourg, France, von der Leyen said the bloc's solidarity with Ukraine was "unshakeable," and must remain that way.
"Never before has this parliament debated the state of our union with war raging on European soil," von der Leyen told the legislature, with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska seated as the guest of honor among lawmakers, many of whom were wearing blue and yellow, Ukraine's national colors.
"And I stand here with the conviction that with courage and solidarity, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will fail and Europe will prevail.... Europe's solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable," she said, adding that she would pay a surprise visit to Kyiv later in the day.
Since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the bloc's 27 members have agreed on several rounds of crippling sanctions, hitting target from Putin and his family to the country's oligarchs and senior politicians.
"I want to make it very clear, the sanctions are here to stay. This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement," von der Leyen said.
Von der Leyen accused Moscow of manipulating Europe's energy markets to the point where they are no longer properly functioning anymore.
Some critics have pointed to a huge spike in energy prices and intermittent cuts to supplies as a sign that the sanctions on Moscow are causing more damage at home than in Russia.
But von der Leyen said Russia's financial sector was on "life support," while its industries and military were being crippled by an exodus of international companies in response to the war.
"The Russian military is taking chips from dishwashers and refrigerators to fix their military hardware, because they ran out of semiconductors. Russia's industry is in tatters," she said.
To damp the impact of soaring prices because of Russia's actions, von der Leyen said she would propose legislation to impose windfall levies on energy companies that could total more than 140 billion euros ($139.6 billion).
"In these times, profits must be shared and channeled to those who need it most," von der Leyen said.
To aid Ukraine, von der Leyen said the EU would open its single market to Ukrainian goods and in addition to the billions of euros in aid already given to Kyiv, she pledged another 100 million euros to rebuild schools destroyed by the heavy shelling by Russian artillery.
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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