European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen Wednesday warned Russia it could face “unprecedented measures” if it does not de-escalate its aggressive posture against Ukraine.
Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Von der Leyen noted Russia’s recent buildup of troops and equipment near its border with Ukraine. She reiterated the European Union’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Although the EU already has a set of economic sanctions in place, she said, any further aggression will have “massive costs” for Russia. She said the response may be a “robust scaling up” of those sanctions, adding that the EU is ready to take additional “unprecedented measures with serious consequences for Russia.”
Von der Leyen urged Russia to “de-escalate, to pursue diplomatic channels and to abide by its international commitments.”
Russia has maintained that the troops and equipment at the border are there for defensive purposes only and denied intelligence reports indicating it is planning an invasion.
Von der Leyen also criticized what she described as blatant efforts by Moscow to intimidate the former Soviet republic, Moldova, by squeezing its gas supplies and raising prices. Russia has denied those claims.
Also on Wednesday, Von der Leyen held a news briefing with Moldova’s reformist president, Maia Sandu, and pledged nearly $68 million in funding to help offset the rising fuel prices the nation is facing.
In an interview Tuesday, Sandu told the Reuters news agency she would like Moldova to join the EU and was taking part in the bloc’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels Wednesday. Since the nation won its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, pro-Russian and pro-EU factions in Moldova have been vying for control.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.