Charles Michel warned Vladimir Putin’s actions have put international order and democracy “under attack”
European Council President Charles Michel launched a blistering tirade against Russia in a speech to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Tuesday, accusing Moscow of engaging in “geopolitical terrorism” by invading Ukraine.
“The rules-based international order, democracy, human dignity are also under attack. This is geopolitical terrorism, pure and simple,” Michel declared, accusing Russia of violating international law with the military activity in its neighboring country.
Addressing the European Parliament after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke via video to MEPs, Michel acknowledged that, while Ukraine’s application to join the EU is “symbolic,” it is “going to be difficult” to achieve.
Responding to Ukraine’s application, Michel said the council of the EU government will “seriously look at the symbolic, political and legitimate request,” making the “appropriate choice in a determined and clear-headed manner.” The remarks from Michel suggest that any decision on Ukraine’s request could be a long way from being announced.
Michel’s statement follows a string of increasingly aggressive sanctions being imposed on Russia in the wake of military clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops. Among those targeted in the sanctions are President Vladimir Putin, senior Russian officials, and oligarchs who have been accused of being close to Putin and the country’s financial institutions.
The session in the European Parliament comes hours after France’s Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, threatened to “wage a total economic and financial war on Russia” until “Putin returns to better intentions in Ukraine.” Le Maire later backed down from his remarks, claiming it had been inappropriate to use that language.
On Monday, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzya, refuted the international condemnation of Moscow’s actions, claiming that Putin has no plans to occupy Ukraine. Nebenzya used his speech to reiterate Putin’s stated aim of the military action “to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine.”