The international coalition against Putin closes ranks in Brussels

“If there is something that Putin has not foreseen, it is our unity, the speed of our action and our determination. You should have no doubt that we will stay on this course.” the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenthis past Wednesday before the European Parliament they anticipated the message that will come out of the marathon of meetings that the leaders of the Atlantic Alliancethe G7 and of European Council in Brussels. Three separate summits but with the same objective: to denounce the Vladimir Putin’s war when it is fulfilled a month of aggression and to close ranks with Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelensky who will be present for video conference in all three appointments.

“As the war progresses, we see how Russia increasingly attacks the civilian population and targets hospitals, schools and shelters. These war crimes must stop immediately. Those responsible and their accomplices will have to be held accountable in accordance with international law & rdquor ;, has written the President of the European Council, Charles Michelin the letter of invitation to the European summit, which will stage the good state of transatlantic relations with the US President Joe Biden in attendancewho will attend a European Council for the first time in person to speak with his European partners about the first threat to international order and security in Europe since the Second World War.

It will be from four in the afternoon when the extraordinary summit of NATO leaders and of G7. Both in the headquarters of the Alliance in Brussels. “We will discuss the best way to support Ukraine in these dramatic circumstances. The Ukrainian people have bravely stood up to defend their country. But the humanitarian needs inside Ukraine are growing dramatically. And millions of people have had to flee their homes. We must continue to provide humanitarian, political, financial and material support to Ukraine. Also examine the support we can offer to Ukrainian refugees and their hosts & rdquor ;, explained Michel.

Dantesque photography

The photograph presented yesterday by the European Commission is Dantesque. Every second 800 children leave Ukraine traumatized, leaving siblings and parents behind, to the point that half of those arriving in the EU are minors. Since the war began there 6.5 million internally displaced and others 3.5 million who have fled the countrythe bulk of them -more than 2 million- Polandbut also to Romania, Moldova, Hungary and other European countries. European leaders will recognize the efforts of neighboring countries and will commission the European Commission to develop the platform of solidarity that it has put in place to coordinate and organize refugee transfers between Member States and even third countries such as the United Kingdom or Canada, whose prime minister , Justin Trudeau, confirmed upon his arrival in Brussels his commitment to continue supporting the reception of Ukrainians.

In what does not seem that there will be news is in the policy of sanctions. The EU has so far adopted four rounds of sanctions against Russia, at a frenetic pace, and is willing to “move quickly with new coordinated sanctions & rdquor; if necessary. However, the intention of the Twenty-seven is limited for now to taking stock – the Lithuanian foreign minister acknowledged on Monday that there was a certain fatigue ‘of sanctions – and to guarantee ways to effectively apply the sanctions already approved so far and avoid gaps that allow Russia to escape punishment through third countries such as Turkey or Serbia.

The Baltic countries or Poland continue to demand an embargo on fossil fuels from Russia -something they have already announced United Kingdom or United States United States– so that the EU does not continue to finance Putin’s war but Germany, Holland and the countries most dependent on Russian gas and oil are reluctant, at least to cut off gas. Their position: keep this measure in the chamber although they insist that “everything is on the table and no option is ruled out,” diplomatic sources assure.

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Even so, the pressure on Russia continues to increase, something that will be evident in the debate that the leaders will hold on Friday, during the second day of the summit. The Twenty-Seven will recommit to reducing dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal and will bless some of the proposals launched this week by the European Commission. In the first place, the joint purchases of gas that Brussels could negotiate on behalf of the Twenty-seven with different suppliers from producing countries. For example, von der Leyen will take advantage of the summit to try to extract a commitment from President Joe Biden that the United States will prioritize liquefied natural gas shipments (LNG) to the EU in the coming months, with additional supplies for the next two winters.

The second proposal that the European leaders will endorse is the increase in gas reserves by November 1 of each year -to 80% this year and 90% from the following years- to guarantee adequate levels and margin in case of problems of catering. Not all countries have underground deposits so the challenge will be to act in solidarity. What is expected to be much more divisive at the European meeting is the debate on the gas price containment and its impact on the electricity bill. Spain, Portugal, Greece or Italy have been asking their European counterparts for months for solutions without success. The European Commission has launched this week a battery of “options” which includes some of the proposals from Spain to “bump & rdquor; prices, all advantages and disadvantages, but a group of European countries, led by Germany, Austria, Holland and Denmarkremain hostile to any interventions in the market.

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