Early this morning, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, a free and sovereign country. Once again, in the centre of Europe, innocent women, men and children are dying or fear for their lives. We condemn this barbaric attack, and the cynical arguments used to justify it.
President Putin is responsible for bringing war back to Europe. In these dark hours, the European Union stands together with Ukraine and its people. What we are facing is an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against a sovereign, independent country. Russia's target is not just Donbass, the target is not just Ukraine, the target is stability in Europe and the whole international rules-based order. For that, we will hold Russia accountable.
Later today, we will present a package of massive and targeted sanctions, to European Leaders for their approval. With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to key technologies and markets. We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise. In addition, we will freeze Russian assets in the EU and stop the access of Russian banks to the European financial market. Like with the first package of sanctions, we are closely aligned with partners and allies. These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin's interests and on their ability to finance the war.
We know that millions of Russians do not want this war. President Putin is trying to turn back the clock to the times of the Russian empire. But in doing so, he is putting at risk the future of the Russian people. I call on Russia to immediately stop the violence and to withdraw its troops from Ukraine's territory. We will not let President Putin tear down the security architecture that has given Europe peace and stability over the past decades. We will not allow President Putin to replace the rule of law with the rule of force and ruthlessness. He should not underestimate the resolve and strength of our democracies.
History has proven: Societies and alliances built on trust and freedom are resilient and successful. And this is exactly what autocrats fear. The European Union stands with Ukraine and its people. We will continue to support them. Ukraine will prevail.