G7 bans Russian oil imports; The United States adds sanctions

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World leaders said Sunday that the United States and key allies would ban imports of Russian oil and impose a new round of sanctions.

These steps, announced after a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, are aimed at putting more pressure on Russia to end its war with Ukraine, which began on February 24. Only the United States had previously committed to banning the import of Russian oil.

After the hypothetical G7 meeting with Zelensky, the leaders issued a statement condemning Russia’s actions and affirming their commitment to helping Ukraine.

“Today, we, the G-7, have assured President Zelensky of our continued readiness to make further commitments to help Ukraine secure its free and democratic future, so that Ukraine can defend itself now and deter future aggressions,” the leaders said.

Announcement coming after hours First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Ukraine To meet Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine.

USA Today on the phone: Join the Russian-Ukrainian war channel to receive updates directly on your phone

The latest developments:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an unexpected visit to Ukraine on Sunday, stopping at the town of Irbin — which was badly damaged by Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv at the start of the war — before meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Acting US Ambassador Christina Kevin, the top US diplomat to Ukraine, has temporarily returned to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

Nearly 7,000 civilians have been killed or injured since war broke out in Ukraine in February, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Institute for the Study of War said in its assessment that Ukrainian forces are making gains against Russian forces and may be able to push them out of artillery range in Kharkiv in the coming days.

The Russian air raid that may have killed up to 60 people sheltering in the basement of a school in the eastern Ukrainian town of Belhorivka – one of the deadliest attacks against civilians of the war – is drawing widespread condemnation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by Saturday’s attack, which destroyed much of the school and also set a fire.

Luhansk Provincial Governor Serhiy Haiday said emergency teams found two bodies and rescued 30 people. “Most likely, all 60 people who remained under the rubble have died,” he wrote in the Telegram messaging app.

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Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the act was part of a long list of war crimes committed by Russia.

“We called the Russians in very early on for war crimes, and that’s contributing to that,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said the organization “strongly condemns another attack on a school in Ukraine” and recalled that “the targeting of civilians and civilian objects, including schools, is a violation of international humanitarian law.”

Jorge L Ortiz, Rebecca Morin

The new round of sanctions on Russia imposed by the Group of Seven – a group that includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom – came on the eve of Russia celebrates Victory Day.

The May 9 holiday commemorates the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Western officials believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin can use Celebrating Victory Day To declare either victory in Ukraine or an escalation of the war.

Besides the G7 commitment to boycott Russian oil – only the United States has taken this step on one of Russia’s largest exports – the Biden administration will impose sanctions on three Russian TV stations.

Russian oil: Report says Russia has earned $66 billion from fuel exports since the war began

A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters that US advertising dollars and broadcast technology and equipment would no longer be available to those stations.

The United States will also impose new export controls and sanctions that will make it difficult for Russia to access wood products, industrial engines, boilers, engines, fans, ventilation equipment, bulldozers, and many other items with industrial and commercial applications.

The White House will also prohibit individuals in the United States from providing accounting, credit, corporate, and management advisory services to anyone in Russia. The White House said these services are essential for Russian companies and elites to build wealth. Officials of several major banks in Russia will also be punished.

– Rebecca Morin

First Lady Jill Biden made an undisclosed trip to Ukraine on Sunday, entering an active war zone where she met her Ukrainian counterpart.

Biden met Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, during a visit to a public school in Uzhhorod, which is used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.

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This is the first time Zelenska has appeared in public since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

Zelenska thanked Biden for his visit “because we understand what it takes for an American first lady to come here during a war when military action happens every day, sirens go off every day, even today.”

“We all feel your support and we all feel led by the President of the United States, but we would like to note that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support during such an important day,” said the Ukrainian first lady.

Biden and Zelenska met alone for an hour. Biden spent just under two hours in Ukraine before crossing the border back to Slovakia.

– Rebecca Morin

The band Bono and The Edge of U2 performed on Sunday at a Kyiv subway station at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelensky, the band reported on Twitter.

Zelensky “invited us to perform in Kyiv as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and that’s what we came to do,” Bono and The Edge tweeted.

Videos on social media show the Irish band members Singing “With or Without You” And Performing a twist on “Stand by Me” with Taras Topolahead of the famous Ukrainian band, Antibody.

Later in the day, Bono visited church grounds in Bucha – the site of multiple alleged Russian atrocities – where a mass grave was discovered in March.

– Katie Waddington

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Bono and his colleague perform a concert at a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine

The band said on Twitter that U2’s Bono and The Edge performed in Kyiv, at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Patrick Coulson-Price, Newsflare

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, said Sunday that her country “will do everything possible on the battlefield, but also diplomatically, to restore our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

Asked on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” about Russia’s moves to annex parts of eastern Ukraine, Markarova said it was “positive” that the world would not recognize the Kremlin’s efforts to assert control there.

“We will never recognize her, the whole world will never recognize her,” she said.

The interview came a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin officially declared his country at war with Ukraine, allowing for more troops to be recruited.

“Well, this will be the first time Putin is telling the truth, it’s a war and he’s in dire need of recruiting,” the ambassador said. “I hope that then it will be clear to all the Russians what they are doing in Ukraine. It is a war of aggression. They have attacked a neighboring country, a peaceful country. The question is, are they ready for the death of tens of thousands of people? In Ukraine for absolutely no reason?”

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– Katie Waddington

War explanation: Evictions, Accusations, Denials: Key Events in Russia’s War in Ukraine in 5 Drawings

In its invasion, Russia invokes World War II and Nazism in an attempt to discredit Ukrainian leaders, including attacks on President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently fanned those flames when he raised the unproven claim that Adolf Hitler was of Jewish descent. Zelensky, a Jew, accused Russia of spreading anti-Semitic metaphors.

“Right now, Russian propaganda sometimes equates the Nazis with Western civilization,” said Anton Chirikov, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in propaganda and disinformation.

Christopher Ball, chief social scientist at RAND Corp. , a global policy think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, California, the Russian propaganda machine is a “hose of lying” that is primarily targeted at the Russian public.

Read more here About propaganda used in war.

Now that the evacuations have managed to get all the women, children and elderly people out of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelensky said another mission will try to rescue the injured and paramedics.

In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelensky added that trying to evacuate the Ukrainian soldiers still there, the “heroes who defended Mariupol,” would be “difficult.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Irina Vereshchuk, announced Saturday that the evacuation of vulnerable citizens took place from the steel plant, where Ukrainian civilians and troops were the last strongholds of Russian forces. More than 300 people have been evacuated in recent days, Zelensky said, after conditions in underground bunkers have worsened and Russia has stepped up its bombing.

Russia held a Saturday rehearsal for the military parade to celebrate Victory Day on May 9, when the country commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

And in Moscow on Saturday, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile flew through Red Square as part of the exercises, warplanes and helicopters hovered overhead, troops marched in formations, and self-propelled artillery vehicles rolled past.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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