The European Union agreed to freeze European assets linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over their decision to invade Ukraine, EU officials said on Friday.
EU foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels to thrash out details and formally approve the sanctions, described as the harshest ever imposed by the bloc.
“We are hitting Putin’s system where it has to be hit, not only economically and financially, but also at the heart of its power,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she arrived for a meeting in Brussels with EU counterparts.
That is why “we now list also the president, Mr Putin, and Foreign Minister Lavrov” to a packet of new sanctions agreed by EU leaders overnight, she said.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers adopted the sanctions package and “the asset freeze includes President of Russia and its Foreign Minister”.
It was unclear what the practical impact on Putin and Lavrov would be and how important their assets in the EU were.
An equally big move would be to ban Putin and Lavrov from EU travel. But EU leaders have made it clear that would be off the table for now, since it might complicate diplomatic moves once all sides get around the negotiating table.