EU to toughen sanctions on Russia, Belarus over Ukraine invasion — live updates
The EU has agreed to sanction more Russian oligarchs and officials, tighten controls on cryptocurrency transfers and target the maritime sector over Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Follow DW for the latest.
You can watch DW TV’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine in this article or on YouTube.
This article was last updated at 13:55 UTC/GMT
Ukraine accuses Russia of holding 400,000 ‘hostage’ in Mariupol
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday condemned what he called Russia’s “barbaric war on civilians and babies” in an English-language post on Twitter. Kuleba said Moscow was “holding hostage over 400,000 people in Mariupol” and decried the shortage of food and medicine “for almost 3,000 newborn babies” in the city.
Russia and Ukraine agreed earlier to a new 12-hour ceasefire to allow civilians to flee cities including the southern port of Mariupol, which has been without water and electricity for the past nine days as Russian forces continue to besiege the city.
Progress in establishing safe humanitarian corridors remains limited as hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in cities across Ukraine.
Ukraine to pull troops, equipment from UN missions
A UN official said Ukraine would withdraw its troops and equipment from all UN peacekeeping operations.
Its biggest contribution is to MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a 250-member aviation unit operates nine helicopters on behalf of the UN.
“At the moment, we are evaluating what impact this retreat could have on our mission and how we can minimize it,” a Monusco official told the Reuters news agency.
Ukrainian media reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree on Tuesday recalling all peacekeeping forces to assist in the war effort at home.
Ukraine contributes about 300 troops, police officers, and staff to six UN missions, but its decision to repatriate aircraft would significantly impact peacekeeping operations.
Two lions rescued from Kyiv arrive in Belgium
The two were due to be transferred to Belgium in May after the Ukrainian authorities seized them from private owners who had mistreated them.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant the transfer had to happen sooner.
The journey was almost cut short, Frederik Thoelen, a biologist who has worked at the Belgium Natuurhulpcentrum shelter, said.
“The Russian army, they pointed their guns at the (Ukranian) carers. They threatened to kill the animals. The carers said, ‘No those are our animals. If you touch the animals, you first have to touch us,'” Thoelen told the Reuters news agency.
The lions, called Tsar and Jamil, were driven to Poland and then to Belgium.
The shelter will hold them in quarantine for three months and nurse them back to health before starting to look for permanent homes.
US has declared an economic war, Russia says
Russia said the US is waging an economic war against it.
“The United States definitely has declared economic war against Russia and is waging this war,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden said, describing energy imports as “the main artery of Russia’s economy.”
Peskov said Russia would remain a reliable energy supplier and pointed out that energy flows continued.
“But you see the bacchanalia, the hostile bacchanalia, which the West has sown — and that, of course, makes the situation very difficult and forces us to think seriously,” Peskov said.
Chernobyl without power
Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company said Russian Forces had cut a power line supplying electricity to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Chernobyl no longer generates electricity, but it needs the power to help cool spent nuclear fuel.
Energoatom said it was impossible to fix the power line because of ongoing fighting in the area.
Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said authorities did not know the radiation levels at the site since the Russians took control of it.
On Tuesday, the UN’s nuclear watchdog said Chernobyl was no longer transmitting data.
“The Director-General … indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.
The defunct plant sits inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors and radioactive waste facilities.
Russia says not trying to ‘overthrow’ Ukraine government
Russia claims it does not want to overthrow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government.
The Russian military had not ordered to “overthrow the current government,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Her denial comes after Moscow’s often repeated aims to disarm its neighbor and target leaders it calls “neo-Nazis.”
Zakharova also said “some progress has been made” in the Russia-Ukraine talks.
On Monday, Zelenskyy said negotiations to resolve the conflict had made little progress.
He also said he was “not hiding” and “not afraid of anyone” as he revealed his location in Kyiv.
New Zealand approves unique sanctions law
New Zealand passed a bill to impose economic sanctions on Russia.
It is a first for the country, which normally only acts following a resolution of the United Nations.
“A bill of this nature has never been brought before our parliament, but it is essential given Russia’s vetoing of sanctions through the UN,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said before it was approved.
The new law, which was rushed through in a single day, targets people, companies, and assets in Russia associated with the invasion.
It will also allow New Zealand to freeze assets and stop superyachts or planes from arriving.
EU to toughen sanctions on Russia, Belarus
The EU agreed to increase sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The 27-nation bloc also gave the go-ahead to cut three Belarusian banks from the global SWIFT payments system.
The EU included more Russian leaders, oligarchs and their family members in the latest round of penalties.
Sanctions targeting the maritime sector were also approved, the French mission, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, wrote on Twitter.
Amnesty International says Chernihiv attack likely a war crime
A Russian airstrike that killed at least 47 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv may constitute a war crime, Amnesty International said.
“This was a merciless, indiscriminate attack on people as they went about their daily business in their homes, streets and shops,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director.
Russia escalated its air campaign against Ukraine last week, and Thursday’s attacks on Chernihiv destroyed high-rise apartments buildings and damaged a clinic and hospital.
Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team has concluded the attack was most likely a Russian airstrike using at least eight unguided aerial bombs, known as dumb bombs.
Amnesty was not able to identify a military target at the scene of the strike.
“This shocking attack is one of the deadliest that the people of Ukraine have endured yet. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should investigate this airstrike as a war crime. Those responsible for such crimes must be brought to justice, and victims and their families must receive full reparation.” Mariner said.
Corridors open in Ukraine after failed attempt
The Russian military said it would hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv.
Separately, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, said people would be allowed to evacuate Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy and warned Russian forces against shooting in those areas.
“I appeal to the Russian Federation: You have undertaken official public commitments to cease fire from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. We have had negative experiences when the commitments that were undertaken did not work,” Vereshchuk said.
On Tuesday, at least 5,000 civilians managed to flee from Suny, but Russia and Ukraine accused each other of failing to implement a ceasefire in other cities.
The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said thatup to 2.2 million refugees had fled Ukraine since February’s Russian invasion.
s of Ukrainians fleeing war head west
Europe won’t need Russian gas to get through winter
Europe has enough liquefied natural gas to last it throughout winter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
She told Germany’s ARD television the EU wouldn’t need to import any gas from Russia.
Von der Leyen said sanctions against Russia were designed to cause a maximum impact on Moscow while causing the least damage possible to Western economies.
On Tuesday, the Commission proposed a plan to free the EU entirely of its Russian gas dependence before the end of the decade.
It will switch to alternative supplies and expand clean energy more quickly.
The US and UK have also announced plans to stop the import of Russian oil.
US Congress agrees on Ukraine aid package
US lawmakers put up a rare united front on Wednesday, agreeing on a bipartisan deal providing $13.6 billion (€12.4 billion) to help Ukraine and European allies.
Democratic and Republican backing for the Ukraine aid package was so staunch it is substantially more than the $10 billion the White House requested.
The aid package is part of a $1.5 trillion funding bill to prevent a US government shutdown.
Party leaders hoped to push the measure through the House on Wednesday and the Senate by the end of the week.
“War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
UK strengthens aviation sanctions against Russia
The British government unveiled new aviation sanctions giving it the power to detain any Russian aircraft that enters UK airspace.
Most European nations, including the UK, closed airspace to Russian aircraft last week, but London has now made it a “criminal offense” for Russian planes to fly or land in the country.
“The ban includes any aircraft owned, operated or chartered by anyone connected with Russia or designated individuals or entities, and will include the power to detain any aircraft owned by persons connected with Russia,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The country also barred exports of aviation or space-related goods to Russia
World Bank official: Russia-Ukraine crisis could limit growth and create food insecurity
A World Bank official said that persistently high oil prices resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could cut a full percentage point off of growth in a number of large oil-importing developing economies.
Countries that could be affected include China, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey, World Bank official Indermit Gill said.
Additionally, a number of economies in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa are “heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for food,” Gill said.
“For lower-income countries, disruption to supplies as well as higher prices could cause increased hunger and food insecurity,” he added. “The war has aggravated those uncertainties in ways that will reverberate across the world, harming the most vulnerable people in the most fragile places.”
Thousands of Ukrainian citizens, foreign students evacuate Sumy
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that thousands of civilians had left the northeastern Sumy region, according to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
The corridor out of Sumy will continue to function on Wednesday, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy confirmed.
Among the evacuees were 5,000 Ukrainians and 1,700 international students, Vereshchuk said, adding that the evacuation was successful due to the mediation of the Red Cross.
The city of Sumy lies some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southwest of Ukraine’s border with Russia.
According to Vereshchuk, Sumy has been under “total siege” for three days.
Civilians left the city in busses and cars to Poltava during a ceasefire on Tuesday, the only one that held. From Poltava many are expected to go on to the western city of Lviv and to neighboring EU countries.
Sumy is the first city where a humanitarian corridor has been successfully established. In four other cities selected for evacuation, no Nomparable escape route has as of yet been made available.
Some 200,000 people are still waiting to get out of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, according to the Red Cross.
On Wednesday, the Russian military said routes would be open in Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy for civilians trying to escape besieged cities. However, Ukraine has repeatedly warned Moscow is not genuinely looking to allow civilians to flee.
Zhyvytskyy said Sumy was bombarded overnight.
Zelenskyy thanks US, UK for ban on Russian oil imports
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the leaders of the US and UK for banning Russian oil imports in his daily video address.
“This is a powerful signal to the whole world,” Zelenskyy said, referring to US President Joe Biden’s decision to ban oil imports from Russia.
“Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money,” he added.
“Every cent paid to Russia turns into bullets and projectiles that fly into other sovereign states,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy called for the war to end through negotiation with Russia saying, “the war must be stopped. We need to sit down at the negotiating table, but for honest, substantive talks.”
Pentagon rejects Polish offer to send fighter jets to Ukraine through Germany
The Pentagon has rejected Poland’s offer to send its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US airbase in Germany.
Poland’s offer would have had Soviet-era MiG-29 fighters sent to the US base in Ramstein, Germany, with the aircraft eventually being given to Ukraine. Poland’s air force would have then received F-16 fighters as replacements.
“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby said flying from a US base “into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday
The International Atomic Energy Agency said that the situation of staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was “deteriorating,” as they have been on duty continuously for almost two weeks since Russian forces took control of the area.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi said they were suspending business in Russia. Earlier, McDonald’s also suspended operations.
The Russian military said it would offer a Wednesday cease-fire starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 UTC) to allow civilians to escape four Ukrainian cities.
Ukraine accused Russia of attacking a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the southern port city of Mariupol.
Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it was “ready” to deliver MiG-29 planes to the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, with the aircraft being eventually given to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from British lawmakers after addressing the House of Commons by video link.
The US and the UK announced bans on Russian oil imports. Petroleum company Shell also says it will stop buying Russian oil and gas.
US intelligence officials released an estimate of between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers killed since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, far lower than a claim by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry that 12,000 “Russian occupying forces” had been killed.
sdi/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)