Von der Leyen: Ukraine crisis shows Japan, EU can rely on each other

©European Union 2020
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

BRUSSELS — The European Union will expand cooperation with Japan in areas including sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of her visit to Japan.

Von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel held talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday.

Sanctions implemented by the EU, Japan, the United States and other like-minded countries are “draining the resources used by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to finance his war,” von der Leyen said in a written response to interview questions. “We must … continue to ensure that they are implemented until Putin puts an end to this brutal act.”

The EU and its partners have removed Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments network, among other sanctions that have been imposed since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February.

Regarding ties between the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, von der Leyen said Putin has “failed miserably at sowing division within the transatlantic partnership.”

The European Commission president expressed gratitude to Japan for diverting imports of liquefied natural gas to European countries, which are heavily dependent on energy sources from Russia. “This crisis has shown that we can rely on each other,” she said, citing enhanced EU-Japan ties.

Regarding the Indo-Pacific region, von der Leyen expressed willingness to step up cooperation with Japan in such fields as maritime and cyber security, eyeing China.

“The EU wants to take a more active role in the Indo-Pacific. Because we want to take more responsibility in a region so vital to our prosperity,” she said.