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EU’s top diplomat defends anti-Russia sanctions

The EU’s top diplomat has hit back at those who criticize the Western sanctions slapped on Russia, saying on Monday that he does not believe them to be a mistake, and adding that the bloc will continue to stand by its policies.

“There is a big debate about ‘are the sanctions effective? Are the sanctions affecting us more than Russia?’ Some European leaders have been saying that the sanctions were an error, were a mistake. Well, I do not think they were a mistake, it is what we had to do and we will continue doing,” Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told reporters prior to the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

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Borrell’s comments come after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban castigated EU sanctions against Russia on Friday, claiming they were “miscalculated” and could destroy Europe’s economy. He also noted that the sanctions have failed to destabilize Russia’s economy and haven’t forced Moscow to stop its military operation in Ukraine, instead causing massive damage to the EU’s economic stability.

The senior diplomat also declined to admit that oil prices soared due to the oil embargo that Brussels had imposed on Russia. He said the price of the fuel is now back at the same level as it was before February 24.

So, how can someone say that it was the ban which has increased the price of oil?” Borrell argued.

Following the start of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine, Brent crude prices skyrocketed, reaching more than $120 per barrel in early March. Later, however, the prices went down, with Brent crude trading now at just above $100 per barrel, despite the EU’s decision on June 3 to impose an embargo on Russian oil.

Borrell said at the Council meeting on Monday that ministers would discuss a new sanctions package against Russia, as well as measures to better implement the restrictions already in place, and added that he had presented new proposals on the matter, including a ban on Russian gold.

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