Live: EU weighs fresh sanctions on Russia as Ukraine war fuels global crises

Live: EU weighs fresh sanctions on Russia as Ukraine war fuels global crises

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The European Union will discuss tightening sanctions against Russia on Monday. The bloc’s foreign ministers are considering banning gold purchases from Russia, which would align with sanctions already imposed by G7 partners. Follow FRANCE 24 for live updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

11:21am: Deadly Russian shelling in Toretsk in eastern Ukraine

Six people were killed in Russian shelling of the town of Toretsk in the eastern Donetsk region, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

Rescuers retrieved five bodies from the rubble of a two-storey house and another person died in hospital, it said on Facebook. Russia, which invaded Ukraine in what it calls a special military operation, denies deliberately targeting civilians.

10:16am: Borrell warns Russia’s block on Ukraine grain could starve thousands

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports threatens grain supplies to tens of thousands of people vulnerable to starvation and must end, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned Monday.

“It’s an issue of life and death for many human beings. And the question is that Russia has to de-block and allow Ukrainian grain to be exported,” Borrell told reporters.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will meet UN and Turkish diplomats in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss a possible agreement to end the months-long blockade of Ukraine’s ports.

Borrell spoke as he arrived at a meeting in Brussels of EU foreign ministers to discuss closing loopholes in their sanctions regime to punish Russia for the invasion.

9:34am: ‘Buck stops at the top’: Likely reasons for sacking of top Ukrainain officials

Reporting from Ukraine, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg discusses likely reasons for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to sack his security chief Ivan Bakanov and prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova.

“One of main criticisms against Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration, which does remain very popular, is that they ceded territory primarily in south, particularly in the Kherson region, very quickly, without much of a fight,” explained Cragg.

“A lot of people were asking how come the Russians were able to do that. There have been accusations, basically of sabotaging Ukraine’s defence plans and of collaborating” in the now Russian-controlled areas, said Cragg. “There are several accusations of security officials collaborating and I think Zelensky had to decide that the buck stopped with the man at the top.”

While Venediktova is a childhood friend of Zelensky, the security chief’s sacking was expected, according to Cragg. The firing of Ukraine’s prosecutor general was more surprising, but the accusations against her were similar. “Large numbers of prosecutors have cooperated and collaborated with Russian occupiers,” said Cragg, and Venediktova was “ultimately the person with whom the buck stops”.


8:26am: Russian journalist who interrupted TV broadcast released after brief detention 

Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who shot to prominence for interrupting a live TV broadcast to denounce the invasion of Ukraine has been released after a few hours in custody.

“I am at home. Everything is fine,” she wrote on Facebook overnight. “Now I know it’s better to leave home with my passport and my bag,” she added.

Her lawyer, Dmitri Zakhvatov, said she was detained because she was suspected of having “discredited” the army in remarks outside a Moscow court last week in support of opposition activist Ilya Yashin, who is accused of spreading false information about the army.

8:18am: Russian troops ordered to prioritise destroying Ukrainian missiles

As Russia prepares for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has instructed the military to prioritise destroying Ukraine’s long-range missile and artillery weapons, the defence ministrysaid on Monday.

His remarks appear to be a response to Ukrainian claims that it carried out a string of successful strikes on Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs, using several multiple launch rocket systems recently supplied by the West. These include the US-supplied HIMARS High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that have proved very effective in the Donbas frontlines.

Click here for more on whether the HIMARS could be a game changer in Ukraine.

8:04am: EU considers banning gold trade

Reporting from Brussels, FRANCE 24’s Dave Keating provides more details on the EU sanctions up for discussion today.

One of the issues EU foreign ministers will be considering is banning gold purchases from Russia, explains Keating. “According to a draft that’s been circulating, trading gold in jewellery will be allowed, but trading gold in powder form or more pure form won’t  be allowed. That has raised concerns that it will probably be a loophole that would still enable the old trade. So, we’re really in the very technical phases right now, where they’re looking at how to implement what’s been agreed at a high level here.”

File photo: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal speaks as a video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is displayed during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, July 4, 2022.
File photo: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal speaks as a video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is displayed during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, July 4, 2022. © Pool via Reuters

6:28am: EU mulls tightening sanctions on Russia

The European Union will discuss tightening sanctions against Russia on Monday.

With the war in Ukraine grinding on and increasingly spilling out into global energy and food crises, EU foreign ministers are considering banning gold purchases from Russia, which would align with sanctions already imposed by G7 partners.

More Russian figures could also be placed on the EU’s blacklist.

“Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after forwarding the proposed measures.

Brussels is expected to hold initial sanctions discussions Monday, but not make a same-day decision, according to a senior EU official.

4:22am: Zelensky says he raised Ukraine stance on Russia gas turbine with Trudeau

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday that Ukrainians would never accept Canada’s decision to return a gas turbine intended for a Russian pipeline because it would encourage more sanctions violations.

Zelensky said in his nightly video address that he had talked to Trudeau earlier and thanked him for his support. “However I stressed separately that Ukrainians will never accept Canada’s decision regarding the Nord Stream turbine,” he said. Handing it to Germany violated sanctions, he added.

Trudeau said on Wednesday that it was a “very difficult decision” to grant an exemption from sanctions imposed on Russia for the return of the repaired turbine, needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

But Zelensky, echoing earlier remarks by other Ukrainian officials, said Russia was engaging in blackmail with gas. “If there is one violation now, it is only a matter of time before there will be others,” he said.

12:32am: Russian journalist who protested Ukraine war on TV detained

Russian police on Sunday detained journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who in March interrupted a live TV broadcast to denounce the military action in Ukraine, her lawyer said.

No official statement has been made, but her detention comes a few days after 44-year-old Ovsyannikova demonstrated alone near the Kremlin holding a placard criticising Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin.

“Marina has been detained,” her entourage said in a message posted on the journalist’s Telegram account. “There is no information on where she is.”

The message included three photos of her being led by two police officers to a white van, after apparently having been stopped while cycling.

12:05am: Zelensky sacks Ukraine’s top prosecutor, security chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked his chief prosecutor and the head of the country’s security agency in the largest government shakeup since the start of Russia’s invasion nearly five months ago.

Zelensky said he was firing Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and security chief Ivan Bakanov amid a high number of cases of suspected treason by Ukrainian law enforcement officials.

“Today, I made the decision of relieving of their duties the prosecutor general and the head of Ukraine’s security service,” Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation.

Zelensky said over 650 cases of suspected treason and aiding and abetting Russia by Ukrainian security officials are currently being investigated, including 60 cases of officials who have remained in territories occupied by Russia and are working against Ukraine.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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