The European Union’s latest sanction package that includes a partial oil embargo against Russia drew applause from Ukraine and mixed reviews from energy analysts Tuesday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement, which bans oil delivered on barges but temporarily exempts pipeline deliveries, will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the E.U. by year’s end.
“The oil embargo will speed up the countdown to the collapse of the Russian economy and war machine,” Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
Analyst Simone Tagliapietra said Russia will be able to sell much of the oil, but probably at a substantial discount. Tagliapietra, an energy expert at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel, called the embargo “a major blow.”
Matteo Villa, an Italian analyst for the ISPI think tank, was less convinced.
“With oil prices rising and Russian exports holding up for now, the ‘blow’ received by the Russians falls,” Villa tweeted. “The cost to Europeans rises.”
Analysts at Russia-based Sinara Investment Bank shrugged off the embargo.
“Although the measures announced by the European Union look threatening, we don’t see a crippling impact on the Russian oil sector,” the bank said in a statement. “Russian oil producers have time to solve logistics problems and change their client base.”
►Kuleba called on the West to provide Ukraine with 155-mm cannons and a multiple launch rocket system. If Ukraine had them, its fighters already would have liberated Kherson and other cities, he said. President Joe Biden has balked at providing Ukraine with missile systems capable of reaching Russian cities.
►Ukraine’s national soccer team will play at Scotland on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifier. The winner of the game, which was postponed in March due to the war, will play Wales for a spot in the global tournament.
►Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia signed an agreement to join Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in the joint investigation team that will coordinate the probe of Russian atrocities through the European Union’s Eurojust agency.
►Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports is paving the way for a “catastrophic scenario” of widespread shortages and price hikes across Africa, says Senegal President Macky Sall, chair of the African Union.
JOIN USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM:Find our Russia-Ukraine war channel here to receive updates to your phone.
A court in the central Ukraine city of Poltava on Tuesday sentenced two captured Russian soldiers to 11 years and six months in prison for their roles in shelling civilian areas near Kharkiv. It was the second war crimes trial since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov served in Russian artillery units that destroyed a school and other buildings in and around Dergachi, a village about 12 miles northwest of Kharkiv, prosecutors said. The men, who watched proceedings from a reinforced glass box, had pleaded guilty to charges of “violating laws and customs of war.”
In the first war crimes trial, Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced last week to life in prison for fatally shooting a Ukrainian civilian.
More than three months after Russia’s invasion, a top Ukrainian military official warned Tuesday that an end to the brutal conflict that has left much of his country in ruin is not near. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, cited fierce battles for control of the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – and other areas as well.
“I think those people who said that the war would end very soon, that we have already won, that we will celebrate in April, said a dangerous thing,” he said. “Unfortunately, the war will continue, and we have a lot to do to win. It is very difficult for us at the front.”
Russian forces seized half of the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, one of the last major cities under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Moscow continued to make gains in its drive for control of the industrial Donbas. Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Tuesday. He said street fighting and artillery bombardments threaten the lives of the estimated 13,000 civilians remaining in the battered city in Luhansk Oblast that once was home to more than 100,000. Over 1,500 people in the city have died since the war began in February, he said.
“The city is essentially being destroyed ruthlessly, block by block,” Striuk said.
Serbia, a stalwart ally of Russia, may join the rest of Europe in adopting sanctions against Russia. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, sworn in for his second five-year term Tuesday, pledged to keep the Balkan country on its European Union membership path. Serbia is the only European nation country that has not joined in sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Vucic announced Sunday that he has secured an “extremely favorable” three-year natural gas deal from Moscow. European energy sanctions have focused on oil.
“We will have to deal with new sanctions … which could damage us so we will ask our European partners to help us,” Vucic said. He said Serbia will not seek NATO membership and would maintain its military neutrality. But he added that Serbia is “not politically neutral” because of its European Union aspirations.
European Union leaders reached a deal late Monday on a sixth sanction package that includes a partial oil embargo against Russia after resolving an objection from Hungary.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement, which bans oil delivered on barges but temporarily exempts pipeline deliveries, “will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the E.U. by the end of the year.”
The compromise was reached after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged E.U. leaders to end “internal arguments that only prompt Russia to put more and more pressure on the whole of Europe.”
Contributing: The Associated Press