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EU’s Borrell slams Putin’s “barbaric” invasion of Ukraine

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday condemned the "barbaric" invasion on Ukraine by Russian president Vladimir Putin and confirmed a fourth sanctions package against the Kremlin.

European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during press conference following a meeting with EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the EU headquarters, in Brussels, on January 25, 2021. (Photo by JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP)

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday condemned the “barbaric” invasion on Ukraine by Russian president Vladimir Putin and confirmed a fourth sanctions package against the Kremlin.

Borrell said Moscow was targeting not only the Ukrainian military but also civilians, noting that at the besieged southern port of Mariupol “more than 2,400 civilians have died” since the invasion started.

“Putin’s war is not only about Ukraine, it’s about security and stability of our European continent. It affects all of us”, Borrell told a press conference in Skopje.

The fighting has spurred more than 2.6 million Ukrainian refugees to flee abroad, “the biggest movement since World War Two”, he added.

Borrell confirmed the fourth package of sanctions against Russia’s trade, market access, membership in international financial institutions and the export of luxury goods — specifically targeting steel, coal and energy sectors.

“This will be another major blow to the economic and logistic base upon which the Kremlin is building the invasion and taking the resources to finance it,” Borrell said.

The EU’s top diplomat called the Western Balkans a “strategic priority” for the bloc.

“This is, I hope, the awakening moment for Europe,” Borrell said after meeting North Macedonia’s prime minister.

“This is a moment to reinvigorate the enlargement process and anchor the Western Balkans firmly to the European Union.”

North Macedonia’s long-standing EU dreams have been upset by Bulgaria’s claim that the Macedonian language is a dialect of Bulgarian.

North Macedonia is Borrell’s first stop on a tour of the Western Balkans with stops in Albania on Tuesday and Bosnia on Wednesday.