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Ukraine presses EU for full energy embargo on Russia

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By Reuters

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS -Ukraine on Thursday reiterated a demand that the EU impose a full oil and gas embargo on Russia and called for weapons deliveries to be speeded up, as the bloc promised a fifth round of sanctions against Moscow by Friday.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed NATO‘s 30 members plus the European Union, Finland, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, in a session of his counterparts convened to maintain broad backing for sanctions and arms supplies in response to Russia’s invasion.

“We will continue to insist on a full oil and gas embargo,” Kuleba said.

Outrage over killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha near Kyiv appears to have galvanised Western support. Russia denies any wrongdoing there and says the evidence was fabricated.

EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in a non-binding resolution on Thursday for “an immediate full embargo” on Russian energy imports.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a fifth package of EU sanctions, including a ban on coal, would be agreed on Thursday or Friday.

But the bloc’s high level of dependency on Russian oil and particularly gas makes a broader energy embargo – which would cut off a significant source of revenue for Moscow’s war – unlikely for the time being.

New U.S. sanctions announced on Wednesday exempted Russian energy purchases by European allies because many “remain heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, as well as oil, and they are committed to making the transition away from that …as rapidly as possible,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

An EU ban on Russian coal is likely to take full effect from mid-August, a month later than initially planned, following pressure from Germany to delay the measure, diplomats said.

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Kuleba also called for more weapons for Ukraine.

“I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives, and the war is contained in Ukraine,” he said.

Kuleba urged Germany in particular to speed up weapons’ deliveries, asking for planes, land-based anti-ship missiles, armoured vehicles and air defence systems. He said procedures were taking too long in Berlin.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she would discuss more arms sales to Ukraine with allies on Thursday in Brussels.

After more than 40 days of war, Ukraine says Russia continues to shell eastern cities after the Kremlin’s forces withdrew from around Kyiv. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

After the NATO session, G7 foreign ministers and the EU issued a statement condemning the “atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and a number of other Ukrainian towns”, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a war that could last months or even years.