European Union leaders pledged to further increase the economic pressure on Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine following a long summit meeting outside Paris at Versailles, where divisions emerged over Ukraine’s future links to the bloc.
In a statement published after the first day of the meeting ended in the early hours of Friday morning, the leaders said, “We are determined to increase even further our pressure on Russia and Belarus.”
“We have adopted significant sanctions and remain ready to move quickly with further sanctions,” the leaders agreed.
The EU has so far adopted three packages of sanctions on Russia, including strong financial sanctions, targeted measures against senior Russian officials and a ban on various exports to Russia.
Among the measures being considered for a future sanctions package are further sanctions against Russian and Belarus banks, a possible move to keep Russian vessels out of EU ports and additional targeted sanctions, diplomats have said. Leaders have so far ruled out stopping energy imports from Russia.
After the summit, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said there had been five hours of heated discussions among the leaders over Ukraine’s future links to the bloc.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have all in recent days formally applied for EU membership, but EU countries are split over whether to give the countries even so-called candidate status, which starts an accession process that can last a decade or longer.
EU leaders made no promise of starting accession talks in Versailles, saying instead that they “acknowledged…the European choice of Ukraine.”
The statement said, “We will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family.”
European governments have been at the forefront of efforts to persuade the Kremlin to agree to a ceasefire and find a diplomatic off ramp for the conflict. On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Macron, however, said Thursday evening he was pessimistic about the talks with Russia.
“I don’t see a diplomatic solution in the next few days,” he told reporters.
In the statement, EU leaders pledged to offer more political, financial and humanitarian support for Ukraine and for the two million Ukrainians who have fled the country.
“We commend the people of Ukraine for their courage in defending their country and our shared values of freedom and democracy,” the leaders said. “We will not leave them alone.”