Europe must stand up and be counted for Ukraine and take concrete measures to ensure member states are free from Kremlin influence in the wake of Russian aggression, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola said on Tuesday.
The EP is currently debating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and what the European Union’s next steps should be.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also addressed the EP earlier on Tuesday via video link, as his country fights to beat back Russian forces coming down on several major Ukrainian cities.
Condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, Metsola said that Europe was sending a clear message that it would stand up to be counted.
“We will not look away when those fighting in the streets for our values face down Putin’s massive war machine. We will support the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction and investigation of war crimes in Ukraine. We will hold him accountable, just as we will hold Lukashenko,” she said.
“It is worth it. For us, for the next generation, for all those in Ukraine and around the world who believe in Europe and in our way. For all those who want to be free.”
Stressing that a European response must be a “whatever it takes” moment, Metsola highlighted how the parliament was willing to move beyond sanctions already imposed on Russia and member states accepting fleeing Ukrainian citizens as refugees.
Metsola said that the Parliament would recognise Ukraine’s “European perspective” and welcomed Ukraine’s application for candidate status in the European Union.
“Mr President, we stand with you in your fight for survival, in this dark moment in our history. When you look to the European Parliament you will find an ally, a space to address Europe and the world, and always, always a friend,” she continued.
“The European Parliament has a long, proud, history of being a thorn in the side of autocrats and in that spirit, I will seek a ban on any representative of the Kremlin from entering European Parliament premises. Aggressors and warmongers have no place in the House of Democracy.”
She went on to outline the future the EU should work towards, saying that Europe can no longer be reliant on Russian gas and efforts to diversify energy systems must be made.
Additionally, Kremlin cash should no longer be welcomed in Europe.
“Putin's oligarchs and those who bankroll him should no longer be able to use their purchasing power to hide behind a veneer of respectability - in our cities, communities or our sports clubs,” Metsola said.
“Their superyachts should find no harbour in our Europe. And we can no longer sell passports to Putin's friends allowing them to circumvent our security. No more.”
Europe must also move to form a “real” security and defence Union, Metsola said while calling on tech companies to take Kremlin misinformation on social media seriously.
“There is no being neutral between the fire and the fire brigade,” she said.
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