EU oil embargo ‘in days’ as Ukraine’s isolation pushes Russia closer to China

By Oleksandr Kozhukhar and Hans-Edzard Busemann

LVIV, Ukraine/BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union is likely to agree to an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, according to its biggest member Germany, as Moscow says it has seen its economic ties tighten. develop with China after being isolated by the West. on his invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told global business leaders in Davos on Monday that the world needed to tighten sanctions against Russia to deter other countries from using “brute force” to achieve their goals.

Many of the EU’s 27 member states rely heavily on Russian energy, prompting criticism from kyiv that the bloc has not acted quickly enough to halt supplies.

Hungary stuck to its demands for energy investment on Monday before agreeing to such an embargo, clashing with EU states demanding quick approval. The EU has offered up to 2 billion euros ($2.14 billion) to central and eastern countries lacking non-Russian supplies.

“We will achieve a breakthrough in a few days,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told ZDF television.

The European Commission and the United States were working in parallel on a proposal to cap global oil prices, he said.

“It’s obviously an unusual measure, but these are unusual times,” he said.

Russia’s three-month invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, turn entire cities to rubble and cause unprecedented taxation Western sanctions against Russia.

In another symbolic indication of its isolation, American coffee chain Starbucks became the latest Western brand to announce on Monday that it was pulling out of the country.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin would focus on developing relations with China as economic ties with the United States and Europe were cut.

“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we need it or not,” he said in a speech, according to a transcript on the website. of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Now that the West has adopted a ‘dictator stance’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster.”

The comments came as US President Joe Biden visited Asia, where he said he would be prepared to use force to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression – a comment that seemed to push the boundaries of ambiguous US policy towards the autonomous island.


On the battle front, Russia is trying to encircle Ukrainian forces and fully seize the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk that make up the eastern region of Donbass, where Moscow supports separatist forces.

The east has been at the center of its concerns since Russian troops were forced out of the area around the capital kyiv and from the north in late March.

Zelenskiy on Monday revealed Ukraine’s worst military casualties from a single attack in the war, saying 87 people were killed last week when Russian forces hit a barracks at a training base in the north.

“Whenever we tell our partners that we need modern anti-ballistic weapons, modern military aircraft, we don’t just make empty requests,” he said Monday evening.

“These demands are the lives of many people who would not have been killed if we had received all the weapons we are asking for.”

Denmark’s promise to send Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a launcher to Ukraine, announced by the United States on Monday, is the first sign since the Russian invasion in February that kyiv will receive American-made weapons that will expand its striking range considerably.

The harpoons, made by Boeing, could be used to draw the Russian navy away from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, allowing the resumption of exports of grain and other agricultural products.

Russia says it is engaged in a “special operation” in Ukraine to demilitarize its neighbor and root out dangerous nationalists. The West and kyiv call it a false pretext to invade.

Russian forces fired on 38 communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Monday, killing seven people and wounding six, the Ukrainian Joint Task Force military command said in its overnight update.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the information.

Russia was shelling the city of Sievierodonetsk in the Donbass from the air, Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram.

“The enemy is looking for places where people are hiding,” he wrote.

Other areas in the region are also under constant attack, he added.

Ukraine is investigating more than 13,000 alleged Russian war crimes, according to its attorney general’s website.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or participating in war crimes.

($1 = 0.9363 euros)

(Reporting by Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Lviv, Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv, and Reuters reporters in Mariupol; Writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)