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EU Prepares More Russian Sanctions As US Warns of Putin’s Plan to Annex Parts of Eastern Ukraine

EU Prepares More Russian Sanctions As US Warns of Putin’s Plan to Annex Parts of Eastern Ukraine

Russia’s energy exports to Europe, so far largely exempt from international sanctions, are funding the Kremlin’s war effort with millions of euros every day. The European Commission is expected to propose the sixth package of EU sanctions this week against Russia over its late February invasion of Ukraine, including a possible embargo on buying Russian oil.

The European Union (EU) was preparing sanctions on Russian oil sales over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine after a major shift by Germany, Russia’s biggest energy customer, that could deprive Moscow of a large revenue stream within days.

Attempts to increase economic pressure on Russia come amid hopes of more evacuations from the besieged city of Mariupol, while US government officials warned that Moscow was preparing to formally annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the country’s east. EU ministers meeting on Monday warned that complying in full with Moscow’s demand for gas payments in rubles would breach existing EU sanctions. Ambassadors from EU countries will discuss the proposed oil sanctions when they meet on Wednesday.

The moves came as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Mariupol evacuation effort was continuing and he expected more movement of people through humanitarian corridors on Tuesday from Berdyansk, Tokmak, and Vasylivka. Hundreds remain trapped in underground bunkers and tunnels beneath the sprawling Azovstal industrial site – the last stronghold of resistance to Russia’s siege of the devastated southern port city – which Moscow’s forces resumed shelling overnight. Mariupol’s city council said evacuations would restart at 7am local time on Tuesday.

Germany said on Monday it was prepared to back an immediate EU embargo on Russian oil. “We have managed to reach a situation where Germany is able to bear an oil embargo,” German economy minister Robert Habeck said. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed sanctions will not be lifted until Putin signs a peace deal with Ukraine that Kyiv can support, he said in an interview with ZDF public television.

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