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Global Economy

Macron confirms: EU wants to impose sanctions on "high-ranking politicians in Russia".

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed this Friday that the EU intends to impose sanctions on high-ranking Russian politicians.

After the shock of Russia's attack on Ukraine, the West responded with rapid punitive measures. The European Union and the USA imposed far-reaching sanctions on Russia, but have not yet pulled out the whole register.

At a crisis summit in Brussels – the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was involved – Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the other EU heads of state and government agreed on punitive measures in the areas of energy, finance and transport – 70% of banks and state-owned companies are targeted. In addition, there should be export controls for certain products and restrictions on issuing visas.

Punitive measures include: The asset freeze of Russian groups, banks and individuals. Exports of semiconductors and other sensitive goods to military-affiliated organizations in Russia are suspended.

Six Russian banks, including the country's second-largest institution, VTB Bank, are completely affected by US sanctions. This means that US persons and companies are not allowed to do business with them, their assets in the US – or even their assets that come into contact with the US financial system – are frozen. In addition, the government bans all US institutions from maintaining accounts for the largest Russian financial institution, Sberbank. This makes transactions in US dollars extremely difficult for the bank, which, according to the White House, manages around a third of all Russian assets.

The dollar and the euro are the world's most important trading currencies, which are also not easy to replace in many international trades. The US Treasury Department explains it this way: "Russian financial institutions carry out $46 billion worth of currency transactions worldwide every day, 80 percent of which are in US dollars. The vast majority of these transactions are now suspended." Around 80 percent of all Russian deposits are affected by sanctions, according to the ministry.


"Our unity is our strength," stressed EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after the decisions:

"President Putin has decided to bring war back to Europe. This is an all-out invasion of Ukraine, it fundamentally challenges our peaceful order."

A phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin initially brought nothing. After the offensive began, Macron became the first Western politician to speak directly to Putin. The French President called the conversation "open, direct and short". He asked Putin to end the fighting as soon as possible. But this had no effect. Macron spoke out in favor of not letting the thread of the conversation break completely.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, currently holding the EU Council Presidency:

"While we condemn, sanction, continue to make decisions and act, we leave this path open so that on the day the conditions are met, we can achieve an end to the fighting for Ukrainians."

However, the European heads of state and government were not entirely in agreement: Several, including Kiev, called for even tougher penalties, also with a view to the banking communication network SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). A Swift exclusion would effectively exclude Russian financial institutions from the global financial system.

But US President Joe Biden said the measures taken would hit harder. States that make up about two-thirds of global economic output are behind the sanctions.

Joe Biden, US President:

"First of all, the sanctions that have been proposed for all of their banks are of equal scope, perhaps more severe than SWIFT. Plus, it remains an option, but at the moment that's not the position the rest of Europe wants to take."


Great Britain and its partners want to freeze all assets of the Russian bank VTB. Access for all Russian banks to the British financial system will also be stopped. The money houses should no longer trade in pounds and do no business in London.

Japan is also blocking financial transactions and the delivery of semiconductors and raw materials with immediate effect.

The USA imports significant quantities of Russian oil, but overall the economy is much less closely linked to Russia than that of the European countries. But the US government controls one powerful weapon: access to the world's largest financial market and the global reserve and trading currency, the US dollar. Washington is now using this lever with its western allies.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused China of throwing a lifeline to Russia by easing trade restrictions while much of the world tries to stop Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

02/24/202210:50In this ticker you will find more information about Russia's war in UkraineBecause of the fighting, a curfew applies in the capital Kiev over the weekend until 8 a.m. Monday morning.The Ukrainian Minister of Health recorded 198 civilians killed – including 3 children – and more than 1,000 injured .President Zelenskyy has urged the people of Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.Russia's Defense Ministry declares "complete control" of the town of Melitopol near the Sea of Azov by Russian troops.23:42Finance Minister Lindner is trying to counter German hesitation in excluding Russia to justify SWIFT on Twitter. 20:18German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks of a turning point and approves arms deliveries from Germany to Ukraine. 19:53Also in Germany there is admiration for the President of Ukraine. And many think that Vladimir Putin has a problem with that. 16:35Babies are born in the bomb cellar The Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk reports on heartbreaking scenes in hospital cellars. On Twitter she says that Ukrainian women are giving birth in a bomb shelter in a Kiev hospital. "These babies will never forgive Putin when they grow up," she writes. 16:18 Zelenskyy: More than 100,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tens of thousands of Russian troops have now marched into Ukraine. "More than 100,000 invaders are in our country," he wrote on Twitter. "They insidiously shoot at residential buildings." 16:14Ukraine has distributed 25,000 automatic weapons in KievIn order to ward off the expected major Russian attack on the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the authorities say they have distributed a total of 25,000 automatic weapons and 10 million cartridges to the residents. Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj says so in a YouTube video. Anti-tank weapons were also handed out. "Kiev will defend itself," said Monastyrskyj. He is proud when he sees how people defend their towns, villages, streets and houses. 15:07First consequences of EU sanctions… Because of Ukraine: France stops Russian cargo ship in the English ChanneleuronewsIt is being checked whether the Russian cargo ship is not allowed to continue its journey to St Petersburg because of the sanctions imposed by the EU.14:23Russians are reporting the first problems Withdrawing money After western sanctions were imposed on banks, people in Moscow and other Russian cities are complaining about the first problems with withdrawing cash. A man told the dpa that on Saturday, after a long search, he found an ATM in downtown Moscow that threw out 7,500 rubles (around 80 euros). According to him, a Rosbank machine in the luxury department store "Gum", where dollars and euros can also be drawn, no longer dispenses foreign currencies. Other Muscovites are also reporting such problems. 13:06New video from Zelenskyy: "Russia attacks residential areas" In a new video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported on ongoing fighting in Kiev and other parts of the country. "The fighting continues in many cities and areas of our country," he said in the five-minute speech on Saturday (see tweet below). Russian troops want to take downtown Kiev and "install their puppets here," he warned. Zelenskyj also accused Russia of attacking Ukrainian residential areas. Moscow denies that.

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