Air assistance

UN World Food Program launches emergency food aid for people fleeing Ukraine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press release at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 27. (Stephanie Lecocq/AP)

Russia faces universal condemnation and increased sanctions from European countries for its unprovoked assault on Ukraine, and new measures are being announced every day.

If you have just read today, here is an overview of the latest actions of European countries against Russia:

EU closes airspace to Russia, including oligarchs’ private jets

On Sunday, the EU announced it was closing its airspace to Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“We are proposing a ban on all Russian-owned, Russian-registered and Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no longer be able to land, take off or fly over European Union territory. This will apply to any plane,” von der Leyen said.

“Our airspace will be closed to all Russian aircraft. And that also includes the private jets of the oligarchs,” she added.

The UK also banned Russian private jets from its airspace on Friday.

Russian state media banned

Top European diplomat Josep Borrell also announced the banning of Russian news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels on Sunday, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy announced that the bloc would ban the two outlets in a bid to ‘combat’ Russian disinformation .

“Today we take a crucial step to turn off the tap on Russia’s manipulation of information in Europe by banning Russia Today and Sputnik from broadcasting in the European Union,” Borrell said. “We kill the snake on his neck.”

Reserves of Russia’s central bank blocked by new sanctions

More than half of Russia’s central bank reserves will be tied up as part of new EU sanctions against the country, Borrell said on Sunday.

Measures against neighboring Belarus will also be “strengthened”, Borrell said, in return for his role in “facilitating the Russian assault on Ukraine”.

Von der Leyen also announced that the EU would finance the purchase of arms for Ukraine, adding that it was the first time the bloc had done so.

Borrell said the EU was doing this “because this war requires our commitment in order to support the Ukrainian military.”

“We asked for SWIFT and we asked for weapons and now we deliver to both sides,” the diplomat remarked.

Switzerland will renounce “Swiss neutrality” and adopt the same sanctions as the EU against Russia

On Monday, Switzerland announced that it would abandon its commitment to “Swiss neutrality” in favor of adopting sanctions against Russia, Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis said, adding that Switzerland’s sanctions would be in line with those already adopted by the European Union.

“The Swiss Federal Council decided today to fully adopt the EU sanctions,” Cassis said during a press briefing. “This is an unprecedented action by Switzerland, which has always remained neutral before.”

“Russia’s attack is an attack on freedom, an attack on democracy, an attack on the civilian population and an attack on the institutions of a free country. It cannot be accepted under international law, it cannot be accepted politically and it cannot be accepted morally,” Cassis added.

Norwegian energy giant Equinor to sever partnerships with Russia

Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor will halt all new investments in Russia and begin to withdraw from joint ventures there, the company said in a statement on Monday.

“We are all deeply troubled by the invasion of Ukraine, which represents a terrible setback for the world,” said Anders Opedal, president and CEO of Equinor.

The company said it had $1.2 billion in long-term investments in Russia at the end of 2021. It has operated in Russia for more than 30 years and has a cooperation agreement with the Russian state oil company Rosneft.

This is important because the Norwegian government owns two-thirds of Equinor, according to the company’s website. On Sunday, the Norwegian government also announced in a press release that it would ask its sovereign wealth fund to divest from Russia. The fund describes itself as one of the largest in the world, holding 1.5% of all shares of global listed companies.

Several European football associations announce that they will not play international matches against Russia until further notice

Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Albania have followed in the footsteps of England, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland in refusing to face Russia at all levels of international football.