Ukraine fury: EU told to step up as bloc ‘lagging behind’ on fight against Russia

Ukraine: Russia laying mines around Kyiv in desperation

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Ukraine’s military warned the public on Tuesday of more indiscriminate Russian shelling of critical infrastructure as US President Joe Biden issued one of his strongest warnings yet that Russia is considering using chemical weapons.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging western allies to impose a no fly zone on the country to protect refugees and shipments from the EU.

But as leaders in Brussels struggle to come to an agreement on tougher action against Moscow, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, blasted the EU for failing to step up to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Speaking to Politico, he said: “We do understand that there is a lack of will for the time being to have this zone established.”

He added: “Again, we do know the countries who can help Ukraine but what all of them lack is political will.

“Some [countries] are quite active and imposing sanctions on Russia.

“Unfortunately, if you ask me about the European Union, for instance, the European Union is lagging behind in the sanctions policy.

“It’s sometimes, you know, only half what we need.”

President Biden is due to travel to Europe this week for meetings with allied leaders to discuss tighter sanctions on Russia, on top of the unprecedented financial penalties already announced.

Ahead of the trip he discussed Russia’s “brutal” tactics in a call with European leaders on Monday, the White House said.

Russia’s siege and bombardment of Mariupol, which European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “a massive war crime”, is increasing pressure for action.

But EU foreign ministers on Monday disagreed on whether and how to include energy in sanctions, with Germany saying the bloc was too dependent on Russian oil to impose an embargo.

President Biden singled out India for being “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware, but praised the other members of the Quad group, Australia and Japan.

India has urged an end to the violence in Ukraine but has abstained from voting against its old Cold War ally Russia.

China, which has also declined to condemn Russia’s assault, and its ally, Pakistan, shared concern about the “spillover effects of unilateral sanctions” on Russia, the Chinese foreign ministry said after a meeting of the neighbours’ foreign ministers.

They called for a ceasefire and a diplomatic resolution of the crisis.

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The conflict has driven almost a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, and Germany said the number could reach as high as 10 million in coming weeks.

Ukraine on Monday rejected a Russian demand to stop defending Mariupol.

A part of Mariupol now held by Russian forces was an eerie wasteland.

Several bodies wrapped in blankets lay by a road.

Windows were blasted out and walls were charred black. People who came out of basements sat on benches amid the debris, bundled up in coats.

About 8,000 were evacuated on Monday from towns and cities under fire, including about 3,000 from Mariupol, through seven humanitarian corridors, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said.

The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region said buses evacuating civilians from front-line areas were hit by shelling on Monday and four children were wounded.

The eastern cities of Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv have also been hard hit.

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