EU Urgently Readies Energy Sanctions After Kremlin Challenges Bucha Narrative
The European Union has confirmed it’s working on big anti-Russia sanctions as a “matter of urgency” – in the words of foreign policy chief Josep Borrell – and as French President Macron has said he’s in favor of a “total ban” on Russian coal and oil exports as soon as next week.
Macron told a French broadcaster there were “very clear signs” of war crimes committed by Russian forces at Bucha. “We can’t let it slide. We must have sanctions that dissuade with what’s happened there [in Bucha], what’s happening at Mariupol,” Macron had warned.
The first tranche of in preparation EU sanctions are expected to hit energy. On Tuesday Germany’s foreign minister cited that so far there’s been EU agreement to “completely end” fossil fuel dependency on Russia, which will start with coal but followed with oil and eventually gas.
The Kremlin for its part has called the allegations over Bucha “without foundation” and an attempt to “smear” the Russian army, with a spokesman dismissing the charge of mass killings as a “monstrous forgery”.
“It is a simply a well-directed – but tragic – show,” Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov responded at a press conference. “It is a forgery aimed at denigrating the Russian army – and it will not work. We once again urge the international community: detach yourself from such emotional perceptions and think with your head.” He added: “Compare the facts and understand what a monstrous forgery we are dealing with.” Further Peskov called Biden’s war crimes remarks directed at Putin “unacceptable and unworthy” of a US leader.
And in separate statements, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev stated Tuesday:
The situation in the Ukrainian town of Bucha is another example of Ukraine’s fake propaganda…
“An aircraft picture taken from a computer game. A drone downed by a jar of pickles. ‘Dead heroes’ who surrendered to a Russian warship. A Mariupol maternity home. And now Bucha,” he said.
This also in response to Joe Biden saying Monday that the US will back formal war crimes charges at the Hague. Biden had said of Putin, “This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone has seen it.” He told reporters, “I think it is a war crime.” He called for a war crimes trial while saying “we have to gather all the details” to be able to have one, according to AFP.
Biden’s Monday comments were the first he had issued specifically on Bucha, where Ukraine officials are alleging that Russian troops “massacred” over 400 civilians, which they say in many instances had hands tied behind their backs and were shot at close range execution-style. The allegations have triggered rapid sanctions package preparations underway in the EU and Washington.
Details of EU sanctions which have been unveiled Tuesday…
Today we are proposing a 5th package of sanctions.
To take a clear stand is crucial for the whole world.
A clear stand against Putin’s war of choice.
Against the massacre of civilians.#StandWithUkraine
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) April 5, 2022
The scope of the fresh sanctions is spelled out in the European Commission statement. “Today, more than 40 countries apply sanctions like these. To take a clear stand is not only crucial for us in Europe, but also for the rest of the world. A clear stand against Putin’s war of choice,” it reads, listing the following…
“This fifth package has six pillars. First, we will impose an import ban on coal from Russia, worth EUR 4 billion per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia.”
Second: a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These four banks, which we now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector. This will further weaken Russia’s financial system.
Third: a ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy. Additionally, we will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods.
Fourth: further targeted export bans, worth EUR 10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, we will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.
Fifth: specific new import bans, worth EUR 5.5 billion, to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor. In doing this, we also close loopholes between Russia and Belarus.
Sixth: We take a number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies. Because European tax money should not go to Russia in whatever shape or form.
In response, below is the official Russian narrative of events surrounding Bucha published in state media…
On April 3, the Russian Defense Ministry rejected the Kiev regime’s accusations of civilian killings in Bucha, Kiev Region. The ministry noted that the Russian Armed Forces had left Bucha on March 30, while “the evidence of crimes” emerged only four days later, after Ukrainian Security Service officers had entered the town. The ministry stressed that on March 31, the town’s Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk had confirmed in a video address that there were no Russian troops in Bucha. However, he did not say a word about civilians shot dead on the street. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya held an emergency press conference on Monday after the United Kingdom, who is currently presiding in the UN Security Council, had twice in one day rejected Russia’s requests for a UNSC meeting on the Bucha developments. At the press conference, Russian diplomats presented videos made in Bucha right after the withdrawal of Russian troops. The videos show Ukrainian troops and the town’s mayor in high spirits, talking about their “victory” and failing to mention any killings.
Tue, 04/05/2022 – 10:45