Russia will strike with new sanctions worth billions of pounds after Ukraine’s president called on Western leaders to punish Moscow for alleged war crimes.
The United States is set to unveil a new package of sanctions later today, including a ban on new investments in Russia and tougher measures against Moscow’s financial institutions and state-owned enterprises.
Meanwhile, EU leaders will meet to approve plans to ban Russian coal purchases and to stop Russian ships from entering European ports.
The measures come after international condemnation of the treatment of Ukrainians in the town of Bucha, where more than 300 bodies have been discovered, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs.
- The President of Ukraine will address the Irish Parliament today
- NATO foreign ministers will discuss further support for Ukraine
- The French president has agreed to provide technical assistance in the investigation of alleged war crimes
Just hours after Russia told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it wanted to turn Ukraine into a “silent slave”, Ukraine’s president warned Western leaders that they were facing a “critical moment.”
In his speech tonight, Volodymyr Zelensky said that the new sanctions imposed on Russia must be “consistent with the gravity of the occupiers’ war crimes” and that citizens across Europe and the West are demanding tougher action from their leaders.
“We are preparing a new package of strong sanctions for what Russia has done for our people,” he said.
“This is an important moment, especially for Western leaders. And that’s not how our people will evaluate the new sanctions and what I will say about them.
“It’s about how Western society evaluates sanctions decisions. After what the world has seen in Bucharest, sanctions against Russia must be consistent with the gravity of the occupiers’ war crimes.”
“If the Russian banks are still able to operate normally after that, if the transit of goods to Russia continues as usual, if the EU countries continue to pay for Russia’s energy resources as usual, then some political leaders will not be formed normally.”
“My advice to everyone: now feel that the moment is really important.”
European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels this morning to discuss new sanctions, which would require the approval of the bloc’s 28 member states.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a ban on Russian coal imports would cost Moscow 4 billion euros (£ 3.3 billion) a year, while other planned import bans would cost 5.5 billion (£ 4.5 billion).
The EU also plans to ban transactions on four Russian banks, including VTB, and approve more Russian oligarchs.
EU leaders also want to block exports of € 10bn (£ 8.3bn) worth of semiconductors, machinery and transport equipment.
Ukraine has previously called for a ban on Russian oil imports – which Ms Von der Leyen says the EU is doing.
Earlier on Tuesday, Germany’s foreign minister said EU member states had agreed in principle to suspend all imports of fossil fuels from Russia, without giving a date.
White House press secretary Jane Sackie said the new U.S. sanctions would put more pressure on government officials and their families, in addition to hurting the Russian state.
“The goal is to force them to make a choice,” he said. “The biggest part of our goal here is to reduce the resources that Putin has to continue the war against Ukraine.”
The Biden administration has approved the transfer of $ 100 million worth of Javelin anti-armament missiles to Ukraine to meet an “urgent need”.