Here are the top stories from Europe this week.
In its war against Ukraine, Russia started writing the next chapter – by annexing occupied regions in eastern Ukraine.
The move followed referendums this week that tried to put a stamp of approval on joining Russia.
Like much of the rest of the world, the European Commission considered the Russian move as an illegal attempt to grab land and change international borders by force.
Consequently, Brussels’ reaction was uncompromising.
“We do not accept the sham referendum and any kind of annexation in Ukraine, and we are determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “So today we are together proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”
Following the referendums, the European Commission proposed a new package of sanctions including an oil price cap, trade restrictions and the blacklisting of individuals instrumental to the referendums.
Meanwhile, a series of mysterious leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines grabbed headlines this week, producing a field of gas bubbles near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
Political leaders in Europe have suggested sabotage as the cause of the incident with investigations ongoing. Gas prices inevitably went up.
It came as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development published a sobering new report on the economic impact of the ongoing energy crunch this week.
Beata Javorcik, chief economist of the bank told Euronews that Europe is in for a difficult winter.
“I think that emerging Europe is in for a long and bleak winter. While the first half of this year was characterised by strong performance as consumers were running down savings accumulated during COVID and exports were strong, the prospects for the winter and the next year are looking much bleaker,” she said.
“The energy crisis, high inflation and uncertainty associated with the war are putting brakes on economic growth. Moreover, they expected that the slowdown in Western Europe will take its toll on exports from the region.”