- Zelenskiy says rhetoric on sanctions not enough
- U.S. targets Russia banks, Putin’s daughters, with sanctions
- Hungary’s Orban asks Putin to announce ceasefire
LVIV, Ukraine/DUBLIN, April 6 (Reuters) – Russian artillery bombarded Ukrainian cities on Wednesday, as Ukraine’s president urged the West to act decisively in imposing new, tougher restrictions on trade with Russia in response to civilian killings widely condemned as war crimes.
The United States announced new sanctions, including on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, days after grim images emerged of the bodies of civilians shot at close range in the town of Bucha when it was retaken from Russian forces.
Pope Francis, without apportioning blame, described the killings as a “massacre” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the West needed to do more to rein in Russia.
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“I can’t tolerate any indecisiveness after everything that Russian troops have done,” Zelenskiy told Irish lawmakers by videolink. read more
Some Western leaders “still think that war and war crimes are not something as horrific as financial losses”, he added.
Western policymakers have denounced the killings in Bucha as a war crime, and Ukrainian officials say a mass grave by a church there contained between 150 and 300 bodies. Satellite images taken weeks ago in the town, situated north of the capital Kyiv, show bodies of civilians on a street, a private U.S. company said. read more
Moscow denied targeting civilians there or elsewhere. Russia’s foreign ministry said that images of dead bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks with Kyiv. read more
Russia refers to its Feb. 24 invasion as a “special military operation” designed to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments reject that as a false pretext to invade a democratic country.
The war has killed thousands, turned entire cities into rubble and left a quarter of Ukraine’s population homeless. As it heads into its seventh week, the risk that it could escalate into a broader conflict remains a concern.
Reflecting such fears, the EU executive said it had begun a stockpiling operation to boost its defences against chemical, nuclear and biological threats. read more
A siege of the southern port of Mariupol continued on Wednesday, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or power.
“The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening,” British military intelligence said, while Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said people trying to flee would have to use their own vehicles. read more .
Reuters could not immediately verify the British report.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said its team had successfully led a convoy of buses and private cars with more than 500 Mariupol residents to nearby Zaporizhzhia after the civilians fled on their own.
Vereshchuk said authorities would try to evacuate civilians trapped elsewhere through 11 humanitarian corridors.
Burned down cars are seen in a car service that was damaged during a shelling, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn
The United States believes Russia has completed its withdrawal from around Kyiv and is refitting its troops for an expected redeployment, a senior U.S. defence official said.
Ukraine’s military said Russian forces were continuing preparations for an eastern offensive in order to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It said the main focus of current hostilities was Donetsk, where Russian troops were still trying to seize all of Mariupol.
Ten high-rise buildings were on fire in the eastern town of Sievierodonetsk after Russian shelling on Wednesday, the region’s governor said in an online post.
The United States announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian banks and Kremlin officials and banning Americans from investing in Russia.
The sanctions hit Russia’s Sberbank (SBER.MM), which holds one-third of Russia’s total banking assets, and Alfabank, the country’s fourth largest financial institution, U.S. officials said. But energy transactions were exempted from the latest measures, the officials said.
The United States is also sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s wife and daughter, and members of Russia’s security council.
“I made clear that Russia would pay a severe and immediate price for its atrocities in Bucha,” President Joe Biden said on Twitter.
Britain also froze Sberbank’s assets, and said it would ban imports of Russian coal by the end of the year.
The head of the European Commission signalled further moves – including examining energy imports – on top of sanctions unveiled by the bloc on Tuesday. read more
But a crack in a unified EU front emerged, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban saying his government was prepared to accede to Russia’s demand to pay in roubles for Russian gas. read more
Russia supplies around 40% of the EU’s natural gas consumption. The EU also gets a third of its oil imports from Russia, about $700 million per day.
Moscow last week demanded payments for gas in roubles from countries it deemed “unfriendly”, but Brussels said those with euro or dollar contracts should stick to them.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy which relies on Russian gas for much of its energy needs, warned that while it supported ending Russian energy imports as soon as possible it could not do it overnight. read more
Russia edged closer to a potential default on its international debt as it paid dollar bondholders in roubles and said it would continue to do so as long as its foreign exchange reserves were blocked by sanctions. read more
Hungary’s Orban said he had spoken with Putin and asked him to announce an immediate ceasefire.
He said he had invited Putin for talks in Hungary to be held with the Ukrainian and French presidents as well as the German chancellor. Putin’s response was “positive”, he said, but added the Russian leader said there would be conditions. read more
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Additional reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Tomasz Janowski and Nick Macfie; Editing by John Stonestreet, Frank Jack Daniel and Alex Richardson
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