BRUSSELS, Feb 12 — Any EU sanctions on Russia in response to an invasion of Ukraine by Moscow would target the financial and energy sectors, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned Friday.

“She reaffirmed the fact that all options were on the table and that sanctions would concern the financial and energy sectors, as well as exports of high-tech products,” the European Commission said in a statement, quoting von der Leyen.

Western leaders have for months raised the alarm over a possible invasion of Ukraine as tens of thousands of Russian troops mass along the border.

Russia has denied any plan to invade.

It says it is seeking written guarantees from Nato that the alliance will withdraw its presence from eastern Europe and never expand into Ukraine.

The United States and its European allies have rejected those demands.

Fuelling concerns, Russia is holding large-scale military drills with ally Belarus, which borders Ukraine and the European Union.

Moscow and Minsk have not disclosed how many troops are participating, but the United States has said around 30,000 soldiers were being dispatched to Belarus from locations including Russia’s Far East.

In addition, Russia’s defence ministry said Friday it will also hold fresh military exercises near Ukraine’s border and in the Black Sea. 

Moscow, which controls the Crimea peninsula after annexing it from Ukraine in 2014, has made the Black Sea a strategic priority. — AFP