EU wants more sanctions on Russia despite looming energy and food crisis

(AFP) – The European Union will discuss tougher sanctions against Russia on Monday, as Moscow is accused of using the continent’s largest nuclear power plant to stockpile weapons and fire missiles at surrounding areas in southern Ukraine.

The situation at the captured Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is “extremely tense”, said the head of Ukraine’s atomic energy agency, Petro Kotin, adding that the Russians had installed missile launchers and used the facility to bomb the Dnipro region.

Describing “a deluge of fire”, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Saturday that Grad missiles pounded residential areas.

“Rescuers found two people dead under the ruins” in the river town of Nikopol, he said.

As conflict drags on and increasingly morphs into global energy and food crises, EU foreign ministers consider banning gold purchases from Russia, which would align with sanctions already imposed by the G7 partners.

Other Russian personalities could also be blacklisted by the EU.

“Moscow must continue to pay a heavy price for its aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after passing on the proposed measures.

Brussels is expected to hold initial sanctions talks on Monday, but not make a decision the same day, according to a senior EU official.

Multiply the attacks

More than 20 weeks after Russia invaded its neighbor, killing thousands and displacing millions of Ukrainians, Moscow announced on Saturday that it would step up military operations.

Minister Sergei Shoigu “has given the necessary instructions to further increase” military pressure, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The war-torn nation’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has previously accused Russia of seeking to inflict maximum damage, but promised Ukraine would “endure”.

In his Saturday night speech, Zelensky said Ukraine had ‘withstood brutal blows from Russia’ and managed to regain some of the territory it had lost since the war began, and would eventually regain more. of occupied land.

“We will endure. We will win,” he said, and “rebuild our lives.”

While the heaviest fighting has continued to focus on the industrial Donbass region to the east, in the northeast near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, shelling has been rapid and heavy in recent times. days.

A Russian missile attack killed three people in the town of Chugiv over the weekend and destroyed a residential house and a local school.

“Why me? Just because I was born in Ukraine?” resident Raiysa Kuval asked as she sat on the rubble.

“We were leaving peacefully and they separated the mother from the father, the child from the mother, the brother from the sister… It’s unbearable.

Russia’s participation in the G20 is ‘absurd’

A two-day meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies sought solutions to the food and fuel crises caused by the war, but the meeting ended on Saturday in Indonesia without a joint statement after the conflict split the forum global.

Failure to issue a joint statement is expected to hamper coordinated efforts to tackle rising inflation and food shortages that threaten to leave millions of people in developing countries at risk of starvation.

The failure to secure a joint statement came a week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov quit the G20 talks in Bali following criticism from Moscow.

Canada called Moscow’s attendance at the meeting “absurd”, with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland saying from Bali that Russia’s presence “was like inviting an arsonist to a meeting of firefighters”.

‘Clearing’ the city of Donbass

In the besieged Donbass region, fierce trench battles and artillery duels turned into a war of attrition.

Moscow-backed separatists said on Friday they were closing in on their next target, Siversk, after seizing sister cities Lysychansk and Severodonetsk about 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the east.

Donetsk separatist official Daniil Versonov said rebel fighters were “clearing” the eastern neighborhoods of Siversk in small groups.

Hundreds of kilometers from the front line, missile strikes caused heavy civilian casualties in the central city of Vinnytsia, with the death toll rising to 24 on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, a woman died in hospital today, she was 85% burned,” said Sergei Borzov, the governor of the Vinnytsia region, adding that 68 people were still receiving treatment, including four children.

In the face of international condemnation, the Russian Defense Ministry said it targeted a meeting in Vinnytsia of the “Ukrainian Air Force command with representatives of foreign arms suppliers”.

But a senior US defense official said on condition of anonymity he had “no indication” there was a military target nearby.

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Post expires at 4:38pm on Friday July 22nd, 2022