Leading EU members slammed for ‘blocking Russia trade ban
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The flow of “bloody money” to Russia must stop, Kyiv’s mayor said on Tuesday, April 5, as the West prepared new sanctions on Russia after dead civilians were found lining the streets of a Ukrainian town seized from Russian invaders.
Since Russian forces withdrew from northern Ukraine, turning their assault on the south and east, grim images from the town of Bucha near Kyiv, including a mass grave and bound bodies of people shot at close range, have prompted international outrage.
Russia denies targeting civilians and said the deaths had been staged by the West to discredit it.
Sanctions already imposed have isolated Russia’s economy but its gas is still flowing to Europe and a number of international companies continue to do business there, leading Ukraine to say more is needed to starve Moscow’s war effort.
Speaking at a mayor’s conference in Geneva via video link, Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko launched a scathing attack on the EU.
He said: “Every euro, every cent that you receive from Russia or that you send to Russia has blood, it is bloody money and the blood of this money is Ukrainian blood, the blood of Ukrainian people.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that while what happened in Bucha was unforgivable, Ukraine had no choice but to negotiate with Russia to end the war, now in its sixth week.
“All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge,” Zelensky said in an interview broadcast on national television.
He said it was not clear whether he and Russian President Vladimir Putin would speak directly.
Russian news agency Interfax cited a deputy Russian foreign minister as saying talks, which last convened on Friday, were continuing via video link.
There was no update from the Ukrainian side.
Zelensky said earlier that at least 300 civilians had been killed in Bucha and that many more dead were likely to be found in other areas. He said he would address the United Nations Security Council later in the day as he builds support for an investigation into the killings.
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Russia denied that its forces had carried out any atrocities and said it would present “empirical evidence” to the UN Security Council meeting proving its forces were not involved.
But satellite images of Bucha taken weeks ago showed bodies of civilians on a street, a private US company said, undercutting Russian claims that the scene was staged.
Maxar Technologies provided nine images taken of Bucha on March 18, 19 and 31 to Reuters. At least four of the images appear to show bodies on Yablonska Street in the town, which was occupied by Russian forces until about March 30.
US President Joe Biden called for a war crimes trial against Putin and Washington will ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.
At the weekend, Reuters reporters in Bucha saw several bodies apparently shot at close range, along with makeshift burials and a mass grave, but could not independently verify the number of dead or who was responsible.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Bucha and stressed that “Ukraine will use all available UN mechanisms to collect evidence and hold Russian war criminals to account.”
Kuleba spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Monday, with Beijing again calling for talks to end the conflict.
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Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, saying it aimed to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say the invasion was illegal and unjustified.
Germany and the Biden administration said new sanctions against Moscow would be announced in coming days, while several European countries, including Germany, France and Italy, announced expulsions of Russian diplomats and Moscow said it would respond in kind.
The US State Department said it was supporting an international team of prosecutors and experts in their work collecting and analysing evidence of atrocities.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union must discuss banning Russian gas, though other officials urged caution around measures that could touch off a European energy crisis.
Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s gas, and Putin has tried to use energy as a lever to fight back against Western sanctions.
So far, however, Moscow has kept gas flowing to Europe, despite uncertainty over Putin’s demands for payments in rubles.
In the latest effort to pile pressure on Moscow, the United States stopped the Russian government from paying holders of its sovereign debt more than $600 million from reserves held at US banks.
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