‘Democracy stands against autocracy’ in Ukraine, says EU’s von der Leyen

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“An autocrat cannot attack a sovereign country which has a right to the integrity of its territory.” This is the firm response addressed to Russia by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Speaking exclusively to FRANCE 24 about the war in Ukraine, the EU leader added that “democracy stands against autocracy and therefore we are one”.

Faced with the unprecedented crisis at the borders of the European Union which has sent shockwaves through the bloc, Ursula von der Leyen presented the EU’s response to the war in Ukraine. This means continuing to inflict economic strain on Russia, in part through the latest sanctions described this week, which have had “a huge effect on the Russian economy right now, but also a huge effect over time on the economy, so it will have a lasting effect. There is a price to pay for President Putin and that is our strength in the European Union,” the European Commission president told FRANCE 24.

On top of that, von der Leyen outlined the steps the EU wants to take to ease the bloc’s dependence on Russia, especially when it comes to fossil fuels. The head of the European Commission called on Europeans to reduce their energy consumption, EU states to increase the use of renewable energies and, in the shorter term, to find alternatives to Russian gas, turning in particular towards liquefied natural gas (LNG): “If Russia were to cut us off from the gas today that we could go through this winter. So we already have a lot of LNG gas.

As for sending a message to Ukraine regarding its membership of the European Union – a key request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – von der Leyen said that the member states of the European Union are unanimous: “The ukraine is part of our European family, and we are leading the way.” to enlargement […] We are in an extraordinary situation. We need a tailor-made solution and we have to be creative.” The President of the European Commission added that the accession process has already accelerated, with the Commission due to deliver its “opinion” in the coming months. come, rather than taking years, as has been the case in the past.

Produced by Isabelle Romero, Georgina Robertson, Sophie Samaille and Perrine Desplats

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