Union set

‘Russia will feel the pain’ as European Union set to approve sanctions

Vladimir Putin was given the authority to use his armed forces outside of Russia.

European Union ministers are reportedly close to unanimously agreeing sanctions against Russia following a significant escalation in tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers approved a request by Russian President Vladimir Putin for permission to use armed forces abroad.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Russia of “violating international law” and “failing to fulfill its commitments”.

It has since emerged that a meeting between Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, scheduled for Friday, has been cancelled.

Germany, meanwhile, has officially suspended the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

“We have to make sure that whatever happens, Russia certainly feels the pain, and it will happen,” Ireland’s European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne said on Tuesday.

“What happened is a grotesque violation of international law. It is a grotesque violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and it is something that Ireland, as a democratic country, will support Ukraine in this regard.

“We will do this through the European Union, together with our American colleagues,” added Byrne.

Byrne’s comments echo those of Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney, who noted on Monday night that Ireland’s support for Ukraine is “unwavering”.

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and its right to choose its own course in matters of foreign and security policy is unwavering,” Coveney said.

“The decision of the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine as independent entities contravenes international law, constitutes a flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and marks a clear and unilateral violation of the Minsk agreements.

“Ireland supports a clear and strong response from the EU, including additional sanctions measures,” he concluded.

For the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the official identification by Russia of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is “illegal and unacceptable”.

On Monday, Moscow formally recognized the independence of the Russian-backed rebel regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, and Putin deployed troops to those regions.

Putin said the troops would ensure “peacekeeping” in the regions, which he has supported since 2014.

The United States called this decision an “invasion”.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia was planning a “large-scale” attack on its neighbor, during a press conference:

“Everything indicates that Russia continues to plan a full-scale attack on Ukraine.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires on Tuesday, saying Russia’s actions amounted to a “new invasion”.

Johnson said the sanctions were the “first dam” and would be extended if the situation escalated. Sanctions have also been imposed by the EU and the United States.