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Josep Borrell Fontelles is high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, and vice-president of the European Commission.

At this dark hour, in the midst of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, as well as its massive disinformation campaign, it is essential to separate lies – invented to justify what cannot be justified – from facts. The facts are that Russia, a major nuclear power, has attacked and invaded a peaceful and democratic neighbouring country, which posed no threat to it, nor provoked it. Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatening reprisals on any other state that may come to the rescue of the people of Ukraine. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.

What Mr. Putin is doing is not only a grave violation of international law, it is also a violation of the basic principles of human co-existence. With his choice to bring war back to Europe, we see the return of the “law of the jungle,” where might makes right. The target is not only Ukraine but also the security of Europe and the whole international rules-based order, based on the United Nations system and international law. This is why our strong transatlantic bond is vital to European security. We Europeans appreciate Canada’s contributions through Operation Reassurance and the recent announcements of additional military contributions to support NATO.

Mr. Putin’s aggression is claiming the lives of innocent people who wish to live in peace. Civilian targets are being struck, clearly violating international humanitarian law, and forcing people to flee. We see a humanitarian catastrophe developing. For months, we pursued unparalleled efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. But Mr. Putin lied to the faces of all who met him, pretending to be interested in a peaceful agreement. Instead, he opted for a full-scale invasion, a fully-fledged war.

Russia must cease its military operations immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine. The same goes for Belarus, which has to immediately stop its involvement in this aggression and respect its international obligations. The European Union is united in offering its strong support to Ukraine and its people. This is a matter of life and death. I am preparing an emergency package to support the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight, with military supplies already provided by our member states and our allies, including Canada.

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The international community has opted for the full-scale isolation of Russia, to hold Mr. Putin accountable for this aggression. We are sanctioning those who finance the war, crippling the Russian banking system and its access to international reserves.

The EU and its partners have already imposed massive sanctions on Russia that target its leaders and elites and strategic sectors of the Kremlin-run economy. The aim is not to harm the Russian people, but to weaken the Kremlin’s ability to finance this unjust war. In doing this, we are closely aligned with our partners and allies, including Canada, the United States, Britain, Japan, South Korea and Australia. We also see many countries around the world rallying to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Together with Canada and our transatlantic partners and allies, we stand united on the right side of history. We will not tolerate Russia’s horrifying attack on a free and sovereign country. We will not tolerate Russia’s actions that undo peace and order in Europe and around the world.

Over the past few days, we have imposed severe measures on the architects of this war, including Mr. Putin. And we are determined to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate it from the international financial system and our economies, including removing Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and enforcing additional restrictive measures against Russian banks, companies, officials and elites.

What’s more, in the coming week, we will launch a transatlantic task force that will ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions. We will also engage other governments to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.

We are working tirelessly in tandem with Canada to assist the thousands of Ukrainians forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries, and we are stepping up our co-ordination against disinformation and other forms of hybrid warfare.

To justify its crimes, the Kremlin and its supporters have engaged in a massive disinformation campaign, which started weeks ago. Russian state media and their ecosystem are peddling untruths on social media networks, with the aim to deceive and manipulate.

The Kremlin propagandists call the invasion “a special operation,” but this cynical euphemism cannot hide the fact that a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, with the aim of crushing its freedom, legitimate government and democratic structures, has taken place. Calling the Kyiv government “neo-Nazi” and “Russophobic” is nonsense: All manifestations of Nazism are banned in Ukraine. In modern Ukraine, extreme right-wing candidates are a fringe phenomenon with minimal support, without passing the barrier to enter the parliament. The Ukrainian government did not cut the Donbas off and it has not prohibited the use of Russian language and culture. Donetsk and Luhansk are not republics, they are Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia-backed and armed separatist groupings.

We know this, and many Russians know this. There have been courageous protests in cities across Russia since the invasion started, demanding the end of the aggression against a peaceful neighbouring country. We hear their voices and recognize their courage in speaking out, and we also see many prominent public figures in Russia protesting against this senseless invasion.

I continue to work with our partners around the world to ensure the joint action of the international community against the Kremlin’s behaviour. Last Friday, only Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the country’s aggression against Ukraine, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. Countries around the world have condemned Russia’s attacks. At the General Assembly, the entire international community needs to join forces and help end Russia’s military aggression by adopting the related UN resolution (we particularly thank Albania as co-penholder).

With this war on Ukraine, the world will never be the same again. Now, more than ever, is the time for societies and alliances to come together to build our future on trust, justice and freedom. It is the moment to stand up and to speak out. Might does not make right. It never did, and it never will.

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