Sanctions on Russia must be tough, ruling party leader says

Kaczyński said the sanctions had to be strict as Russia had enough resources to survive most restrictions. Paweł Supernak/PAP

Jarosław Kaczyński, deputy prime minister for security and head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Tuesday that strict sanctions must be put on Russia from the very start, otherwise it will not retreat from its offensive stance towards Ukraine.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognised the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics in eastern Ukraine, which have been at war with Kyiv since 2014, as independent states. The decision has further escalated an ongoing standoff between Kyiv and Moscow, initiated when Russia began to mass troops on its border with Ukraine. The West, which sees Putin's decision as an attempt to bring both republics under Russian control, has threatened Moscow with heavy sanctions.

Kaczyński said retaliatory sanctions on Russia should be powerful from the very start. "The sanctions must be powerful right from the first tranche, otherwise it will be hard to expect Russia to withdraw," he told a press conference following a government sitting.

Kaczyński pointed out that Russia could be sanctioned in several ways and named as examples the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, financial restrictions, and personal sanctions on Russian officials.

He also suggested withdrawing all major sporting events planned in Russia in the coming year, and said this would cause Moscow "a lot of problems."

Kaczyński said the sanctions had to be strict as Russia had enough resources to survive most restrictions.

He added that the sanctions should also embrace Putin personally, as well as oligarchs connected with him.

Asked if the government was planning to halt the import of gas, fuel and coal from Russia as a sanction, Kaczyński noted that "everything will be done to curb trade relations as much as possible," but he added that "we will do it in such a way as not to cause major changes in Poland."

"Our long-term interest lies in stopping Russia, we will strive to ensure that sanctions on Russia are applied equally by all countries," Kaczyński said.