The Russian incursion into Ukraine continues, with Russian forces continuing their siege of the city of Mariupol in the southeast of the country and Kharkiv to the north. Russian forces are reported to be amassing in the east of the country, with the goal of capturing the entire Donbass region.
Following claims from Kiev and western powers, that Russia committed a series of war crimes during their withdrawal from the city of Bucha to the northwest of Kiev, the United States has announced a series of new sanctions against Russia. China on the other hand has called for conclusive evidence that the alleged war crimes, were indeed committed by Russian forces. For its part Moscow has rejected the accusations, claiming that the pictures from Bucha are a forgery. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov: “All of these false accusations could undermine the peace negotiations. And while the negotiations are ongoing, they are proceeding much slower than we would like. They require a more dynamic approach from the Ukrainian side.”
The Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said that while the reports and pictures of the civilians killed in Bucha are deeply distressing, the exact circumstances and reasons for these incidents must first be established. Until then he said, all sides should refrain from making unfounded accusations until all of the facts are established.
Meanwhile, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the details of the commission's proposed fifth round of sanctions against Russia to the media on Tuesday, commission spokesman Eric Mamer today explained why the proposed new sanctions do not include a ban on oil and gas imports. Mamer told reporters today, that while President von der Leyen had made it clear that the EC is considering the proposal put for by some member states to ban Russian oil and gas imports outright, it is first important to understand what the consequences of such a ban would have on European citizens and European economies. He reminded that any such decision must be adopted unanimously, by all member states. This however, may prove difficult as some member states are less then enthused about the idea of cutting off their access to much needed oil and gas. Mamer concluded that the issue at hand was not one of defining theoretical red lines, but to ensure that pressure can be stepped up very quickly and significantly when needed.
Speaking at a plenary session of the European Parliament, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said that sooner or later the European Union will have to sanction Russian gas and oil so as to be able to apply additional pressure on Russia to stop the conflict in Ukraine. The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that the EU must continue to finance and arm Ukraine if it wants a just end to the war, one that will not end with a divided Ukraine and millions of refugees.
Meanwhile, the Russian Finance Ministry has announced that it was forced to pay the interest on two government Eurobonds in Rubles because a foreign bank refused to process their payment order in dollars. Since the beginning of the Russian incursion into Ukraine, the United States and its western allies have frozen half of the total of $640 billion of Russian foreign exchange and gold reserves. The US Treasury Department said that Russia would now have to decide whether to continue drawing on the remaining reserves and new incoming revenues, or declare that it cannot meet its financial obligations.
In Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković confirmed on Tuesday that Croatia will join other European countries in taking action against Russian diplomats in the country. However, he did not specify exactly when these measures would be taken.
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