Ukraine seeks ‘devastating’ sanctions on Russia as Europe worries about energy

  • EU’s Borrell announced new sanctions by Friday
  • US imposes sanctions on Russian banks, daughters of Putin
  • Zelensky pressures the West to do more about sanctions
  • Ukraine renews its call for a total ban on energy

Lviv, Ukraine (April 7) (Reuters) – Ukraine wants sanctions crippling enough to force Russia to end its war after some countries were accused of putting economic well-being above punishment for killings of civilians that the West condemns as war crimes.

In his daily video address early Thursday morning, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the democratic world should stop buying Russian oil and completely ban Russian banks from the international financial system. Read more

“Some politicians are still unable to decide how to limit the flow of petrodollars and petro euros to Russia so as not to endanger their economies,” Zelensky said.

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Washington announced new measures that include sanctions against the two adult daughters of President Vladimir Putin and a major bank. However, the European Union failed to agree to a new round of sanctions including on Russian coal on Wednesday. The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said the package could be passed Thursday or Friday.

Borrell, speaking at the NATO meeting, said the European Union would discuss a ban on Russian oil, which he said he hoped would happen soon.

After horrific images of dead civilians on the streets of Bucha, a town northeast of Kyiv retaken from Russian invaders, sparked international condemnation, Zelensky said Kremlin forces were trying to cover up evidence of the atrocities.

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“We have information that the Russian army has changed its tactics and is trying to get the killed people out of the streets and basements … This is just an attempt to hide evidence and nothing more,” Zelensky said, but he did not provide evidence.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says the photos of the bodies in Bucha were planned to justify further sanctions against Moscow and the disruption of peace talks. Read more

The six-week-old Russian invasion forced more than 4 million to flee abroad, killed or wounded thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless, reduced cities to rubble, and blew up Western restrictions targeting Russian elites and the economy.

New steps taken by Washington on Wednesday included sanctions against state-run Sberbank (SBER.MM) and Alfa Bank, the fourth largest financial institution in Russia.

It also banned Americans from investing in Russia and called for Russia to be expelled from the G-20 forum of major economies, saying it would boycott G-20 meetings that Russian officials would attend. Read more

An EU source said the European coal ban would be approved on Thursday but would not take effect until August, a month later than previously proposed following pressure from Germany, the EU’s biggest importer of Russian coal. Read more

Britain also froze Sberbank’s assets, and said it would ban imports of Russian coal, but not until the end of the year.

The United Nations General Assembly will vote on Thursday to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Read more

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A call to action

But Ukraine says its allies should go further to stop Moscow’s war machine by ending all energy imports from Russia and blocking supplies of technology and materials used to produce weapons.

“Sanctions against Russia must be devastating enough to end this terrible war,” Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said late Wednesday.

Ukraine’s foreign minister called on NATO allies to send more aircraft, air defense systems, missiles and military vehicles.

“I think the agreement offered by Ukraine is just. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine,” Dmytro Kuleba told reporters at the NATO meeting.

Unlike the rest of the European Union, Hungary said it was ready to meet a Russian demand to pay rubles for its gas, in what Ukraine called an “unfriendly act”.

The dispute highlights the continent’s dependence on Russian gas and oil, which has prevented a tougher response to the Kremlin, with Russia accounting for about 40% of the European Union’s consumption of natural gas and a third of its oil imports.

confined city

Western policymakers have decried the Bucha killings as war crimes, and Ukrainian officials say a mass grave carried out by a church there contained between 150 and 300 bodies.

Russia says it is participating in a “special military operation” aimed at disarming and “disarming” Ukraine, which Kyiv and its Western allies reject as a false excuse to invade.

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Russia continues to prepare for an offensive to take full control of the breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the besieged southern port of Mariupol, where tens of thousands are besieged, according to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

Many in the eastern town of Derhachy, north of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and near the border with Russia, decided to leave while they could.

The buildings were badly damaged by Russian artillery. Kharkiv itself has been subjected to air and missile strikes from the start.

Mikola, a father of two in Derhachi, who declined to give his surname, said he would hear shelling every night, and would hang out with his family in their driveway.

“(We’ll go) where there are no explosions, where children won’t have to hear them,” he said, cuddling his young son and struggling to hold back his tears.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office said 167 children had been killed so far in the war and 297 had been wounded.

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Additional reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Costas Pettas, Lincoln Fest and Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Grant McCall, Jacqueline Wong, Michael Perry and Frank Jack Daniel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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