Ukraine: the European Union wants to toughen sanctions against Russia

Ukraine: the European Union wants to toughen sanctions against Russia

Russia is preparing the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official has said, after Moscow announced that its forces would step up military operations in “all operational areas”.

Russian rockets and missiles have pounded cities in strikes that Kyiv says have killed dozens of people in recent days. “It’s not just about missile strikes from the air and the sea,” Vadym Skibitskyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence, said on Saturday. “We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters. “It is clear that preparations are underway for the next leg of the offensive.”

An offensive towards eastern Ukraine?

The Ukrainian military said Russia appeared to be assembling units for an offensive towards Sloviansk, one whose capture would have significant symbolic significance. The British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that Russia was strengthening its defensive positions in the areas it occupies in southern Ukraine.

According to Kyiv, at least 40 people have been killed in Russian shelling of urban areas over the past three days. Rockets hit the northeastern town of Chuhuiv in the Kharkiv region overnight from Friday to Saturday, killing three people, including a 70-year-old woman, and injuring three others, said regional governor Oleh Synehubov. To the south, more than 50 Russian Grad rockets pounded the town of Nikopol on the Dnipro River, killing two people found in the rubble, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

Moscow, which calls the invasion a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing its neighbor and eradicating nationalists, says it is using high-precision weapons to degrade Ukraine’s military infrastructure and protect its own security. Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians. Kyiv and the West say the conflict is an unprovoked attempt to reclaim a country that broke free from Moscow’s tutelage when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

Towards new EU sanctions

European Union foreign ministers will discuss on Monday tougher sanctions against Russia, which is about to enter its 6e months of war. EU ministers will have to consider, among other things, a European Commission proposal to ban gold purchases from Russia to align EU sanctions with those of its G7 partners . Another proposal aims to put new Russian personalities on the EU blacklist.

Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after transmitting the new measures to the EU-27. According to a senior European official, during an initial discussion in Brussels on these new sanctions, no decision is expected.The largest buyer of Russian gold is the United Kingdom with 290 tons in 2020 for an amount of 16.9 billion dollars, according to indications from Russian customs.

The cost of the war which was launched on February 24 by Russia is also felt for the rest of the world, argued the Western countries at the G20 in Bali, which however ended on Saturday without a joint press release, for lack of consensus on this point

Read alsoEmbargo on Russian gold: umpteenth attempt to dry up Putin’s finances

(With Reuters and AFP)

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