EU wants criminal trial and more sanctions against Putin

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen believes that European politicians should make a decision on the seizure of Russian bank accounts at European banks. After the start of Putin's war against Ukraine, Western banks froze more than 300 billion euros in Russian bank assets.

More and more voices in Brussels argue that Russian money may be used for European military support to Ukraine. Others point out that freezing bank assets is permitted, but confiscation legally amounts to theft. However, the interest from those frozen bank accounts is already being used by the EU to support Kyiv.

“There could be no stronger symbol and no greater use of that money to make Ukraine and all of Europe a safer place to live,” Von der Leyen said in a speech in the European Parliament last week. Earlier, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said that redirecting those funds to Ukraine is "necessary and urgent." 

The European Parliament believes that the EU should support Ukraine with whatever it takes to help Kiev win the war against Russia. This is what MEPs say in a resolution adopted on Thursday with 451 votes in favor, 46 against and 49 abstentions. It emphasizes how the war fundamentally changed Europe.

The MEPs believe that the EU should expand sanctions against Moscow and Russia's ally Belarus, including a ban on the import of Russian uranium and a complete embargo on EU imports of Russian agricultural and fishing products. Estonia and Lithuania have already announced an import ban on the purchase of Russian food.

Parliament also condemns all those countries, companies, associations and individuals who help Moscow to circumvent EU sanctions, and states that these disruptive practices should be criminalized at EU level.

The EU politicians further hold Russia and President Putin criminally and politically responsible for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The European Parliament condemns the murder of dissident and fully supports his widow Yulia Navalnaya to continue his work.

The EP members believe that President Vladimir Putin should be held accountable and are demanding an independent international investigation into his death. Navalny was awarded the EU human rights award, the Sakharov Prize, in 2021.

Navalnaya gave an impressive speech to parliament in Strasbourg last Wednesday. For security reasons, she decided not to return to Russia and was unable to attend her husband's funeral on Friday.