European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in terms of sanctions and that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be halted if Russia attacks Ukraine.
“I want to be very clear: Nothing is off the table, everything is on the table,” von der Leyen told CNN in an exclusive interview.
The Nord Stream 2 offshore natural gas pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.
Recalling that the European Commission is responsible for designing, shaping and developing sanctions in the fields of technology, economy and finance, von der Leyen said: “We are very clear that if there is any further aggression or military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, there will be massive consequences and severe costs for Russia."
Underlining that the EU is the biggest trading partner and biggest foreign investor to Russia, von der Leyen said: “So these figures tell you that we have a strong leverage, and it would be very painful for Russia in the case that they increase this aggression against Ukraine.”
Russia recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s eastern border, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor.
Moscow has denied that it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises.
- EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
The bloc has been imposing sanctions on Russia's financial, military and energy sectors since 2014, accusing Moscow of destabilizing activities in Ukraine.
Under the restrictions, certain Russian banks and companies have limited access to the bloc’s capital markets, while EU operators are prohibited from providing services to Russian financial institutions.
The EU also restricts trade in defense-related goods and sensitive technologies that could be used in Russia's energy sector.
In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained since then.
The EU has repeatedly condemned the continued Russian military buildup in and around Ukraine in recent months and has stood up for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.