The European Union imposes sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
"This is an important step. Let me note that the only world leaders who have fallen under EU sanctions are Assad from Syria, Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia," he said.
"Putin is not the people of Russia," Borrell said, recalling that together with Putin and Lavrov, a group of State Duma deputies who voted for the recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics fell under sanctions.
According to Borrell, in the coming days a decision may be made on additional sanctions, including disconnecting Russia from the international payment system SWIFT. He clarified that this would depend on " Russia’s behaviour."
There is little hope that this behavior will change. Putin, speaking on Friday, stepped up his aggressive rhetoric, calling Ukraine's leadership "druggies" and called on the Ukrainian Army to go over to Moscow's side.
The official representative of the European Commission, Peter Stano, at a briefing compared Putin with the Nazis. "He talks about the denazification of Ukraine but behaves like Nazis. It's all in his head," Stano said.
The position of Germany, which previously opposed disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, meanwhile, seems to be changing under pressure from the Bundestag, where German MPs are demanding decisive measures. Germany is "open" to disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, but it is necessary to estimate the consequences, said the head of the German Finance Minister, Christian Linder. "You need to be aware what you are doing," Leader said, adding that Europe should strengthen sanctions.