Russian troops control most of Syevyerodonetsk, eastern Ukraine regional official says

The United States welcomed the European Union’s decision to reduce Russian oil imports, but said more needed to be done over time to reduce dependence on Russian energy.

“We welcome the steps taken by our European allies and partners to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and natural gas,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters a day after European leaders announced a agreement to reduce the flow of oil to the EU by more than two thirds.

He said there was “broad support” among US allies for “cutting the strength of the Russian war machine, and that’s Russia’s energy market.”

Price called the EU’s latest ban on Russian oil imports a “significant step” in the near term, adding that there is also “a longer-term trajectory that has less to do with the day-to-day than with the trends over time. and the broader need to reduce our dependence on Russian energy.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that as soon as the sanctions package – the sixth agreed by the EU – enters into force “we will immediately start preparing for the seventh”.

The end goal is “the absence of meaningful economic relations between the free world and the terrorist country”, he said.

Zelenskiy also thanked everyone who worked to reach the deal with the EU, which he said will leave Russia with tens of billions of euros less “to use to finance terrorism”.

The new sanctions, he said, leave Russia “on the fringes of the modern economy”. He added that such an aggressive policy and a “course of isolation from the civilized world” means that Russia “will not be able to adapt” and therefore loses economically.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier promised that the bloc’s move would lower the price Moscow can charge for its crude and reduce the amount of crude Moscow will sell abroad.

The ban, agreed late on May 30, is the toughest action the bloc has taken to date in response to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. compromise agreement reduced Russian oil imports from the bloc by targeting Russian oil delivered by sea.

“We are the most important customer for Russia,” Borrell told reporters upon arriving for the second day of an EU summit in Brussels on May 31.

“The goal is to ensure that Russia has fewer financial resources to fuel its war machine,” he added.

The new agreement, reached at a summit in Brussels, followed weeks of wrangling until it was agreed that there would be “a temporary exemption for oil moving through pipelines to the EU,” said European Council President Charles Michel. told reporters May 30.

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The EU proposed the ban a month ago, but resistance, mainly from Budapest, which imports two-thirds of its oil from Russia via pipelines, has delayed the latest round of sanctions.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which like Hungary are landlocked, also asked for more time due to their dependence on Russian oil. Bulgaria, already cut off from Russian gas by Gazprom, had also requested exemptions.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban repeated that a total embargo would have been an “atomic bomb” for the Hungarian economy.

“It would have been unbearable for us to run the Hungarian economy on the most expensive (non-Russian) oil…it would have been an atomic bomb but we managed to avoid that,” Orban said in a statement. video posted on Facebook.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that despite the temporary pipeline oil exemption, the ban would have a wider impact, as Germany and Poland volunteered to reduce their own pipeline imports by the end of this year.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the new sanctions had a clear goal: “to induce Russia to end this war and withdraw its troops and agree with Ukraine on a reasonable and just peace”.

Ukraine estimated the ban could cost Russia tens of billions of dollars.

“The oil embargo will speed up the countdown to the collapse of the Russian economy and war machine,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Russia’s response came from Dmitry Medvedev, former president and prime minister.

“They all hate us! The basis of these decisions is hatred of Russia, Russians and all its inhabitants,” Medvedev said on Telegram.

The leaders also agreed to cut Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT messaging system, ban three other Russian public broadcasters and impose sanctions on those responsible for war crimes, Michel said.

Zelenskiy earlier told EU leaders that their sixth sanctions package must be agreed and must include oil, “so that Russia feels the price of what it is doing against Ukraine and the whole of Europe.” ‘Europe, and for you to finally become independent of Russian energy”. weapons.”

He urged EU leaders to show strength as they push to pass the new sanctions, saying internal “quarrels” only benefit Moscow.

“Europe must show strength because Russia only sees strength as an argument,” Zelenskiy said. said on May 30 in a speech at an EU summit intended to bolster the bloc’s support for Ukraine in its battle to defend itself against invading Russian forces.

In a video message to EU leaders, Zelenskiy said it was time for the European Union not to be fragmented but “one whole”, calling for a new round of sanctions against Russia, including a ban on the Russian oil.

With reports from AFP, AP, Reuters and Bloomberg

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