The European Union must cast aside all doubts about new anti-Russia sanctions and double down on slapping Moscow with new restrictions that would curb its missile industry, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a regular briefing, Kuleba urged the EU to speed up the work on its ninth sanctions package, which he described as long overdue. “We are only hearing about an attempt to start serious work on its preparation. Such a situation is totally unacceptable,” the foreign minister said.
In the same vein, he called on his EU colleagues “to put aside any doubts or, as it is fashionable to say, ‘fatigue,’ and to start quickly complete the ninth sanction package.”
“If the Ukrainians are not tired, then the rest of Europe, all the more, has neither the moral nor the political right to get tired,” Kuleba stressed.
He called on the EU to focus on sanctions impacting Russia’s capability to produce missiles, which are used by Moscow to conduct strikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Russia has been targeting Ukrainian energy facilities, including power stations, since October 10, after accusing Kiev of attacking Russian structures, including the strategic Crimean Bridge.
Due to these strikes, Ukraine has been experiencing rolling blackouts, with authorities there saying that the attacks have knocked out about 40% of the nation’s energy infrastructure.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that the EU has not officially started working on the ninth sanctions package against Russia. However, according to two of the outlet’s sources, the new measures may potentially focus on Russian individuals that can be linked to the Ukraine conflict.
The previous sanctions package was adopted by the EU in early October and sought to deprive Moscow of €7 billion ($7.2 billion) in revenues from the import of products which support the Russian economy, including steel products, various machinery, textiles and non-gold jewelry.
Following the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February, Western countries imposed sweeping new sanctions on Moscow, freezing around half of Moscow’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. According to Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, these assets “have been essentially stolen” by the West.
EU Softens Russian Oil Price Cap, Reports Bloomberg
EU leaders have reportedly softened proposed legislation on imposing a price cap on Russian oil exports. Full implementation of the policy will now be delayed, and key shipping provisions weakened, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing an internal document.
EU ambassadors are set to meet on Wednesday, seeking to approve the measure after discussions with allies, two weeks before the price cap is scheduled to take effect.
Brussels has reportedly proposed adding a 45-day transition period to the punitive measure. Under the plan, the grace period would apply to crude loaded before December 5, when oil-related sanctions come into effect, and unloaded by January 19. The alterations align the bloc to a clause previously announced by the US and UK.
If the proposal is approved, the EU and the Group of Seven rich nations could confirm the cap as early as Wednesday. Under the provision, Western companies would be banned from providing insurance, brokering and financial assistance to vessels loaded with Russian crude, unless the cargo is purchased below an agreed price.
The price limit reportedly under consideration ranges between $40 and $60 a barrel, which could allow Russia’s production to remain at pre-sanctions levels, but reduce its oil revenue. The currently debated cap would likely be slightly above that, according to people familiar with recent talks, as cited by the agency.
The paper seen by Bloomberg also states that transporters that “intentionally” ship Russian crude oil or petroleum products above the cap will be banned from receiving services related to the transport of Russian fuel “for 90 days following the date of unloading of the cargo purchased above the price cap.”
In addition, Brussels is reportedly planning to introduce a 90-day transition period in the event of any future changes to the level of the price limit.
The ceiling would be set using historical price data for Russian crude and the current situation on global oil markets, a senior US Treasury official told the agency, adding that the price could be revisited as frequently as every few months.
U.S. Clarification On Russian Oil Price Plan
The U.S. government has issued new rules for companies involved in trading, shipping and insuring Russian oil, insisting they will face penalties unless they comply with an upcoming Western price ceiling intended to slash Moscow’s energy revenues.
The U.S. Treasury Department policy guidance published on Tuesday permits American service providers to continue dealing in Russian oil only if it is “purchased at or below the price cap” the exact level of which is yet to be decided. The department claimed the cap, set to take effect on December 5, aims to “maintain a reliable supply of oil to the global market” while penalizing Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.
The new guidelines apply to companies across several related industries, including shipping, commodities trading, finance, insurance, flagging and customs brokering. Those found violating the price ceiling scheme could face penalties from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The guidance clarifies that service providers will not be penalized if the oil is shipped prior to the deadline and reaches its destination by January 19.
American providers will also be banned outright from importing Russian oil into the United States – a decision made earlier this year, prior to discussions of a price ceiling. An EU ban on seaborne Russian oil imports is also scheduled for December 5.
A senior U.S. Treasury official told reporters that Washington expects other countries in the so-called ‘Price Cap Coalition’, formed by the United States, G7 nations, the European Union and Australia, to issue similar rules in the coming days, joining the U.S. and the UK, which already published its own guidance on Monday.
Moscow has repeatedly warned it will simply stop doing business with those complying with the scheme, insisting prices cannot be set by Western dictates.
“The price should be formed by the market based on the balance of supply and demand. This is a bad precedent that could at any moment be extended to other suppliers, to all global trade,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak warned last month.
Some major buyers of Russian oil, such as India and China, have refused to abide by the scheme, and have recently boosted energy imports despite pressure from the U.S. to sever economic ties with Moscow. The overall effect of the upcoming price ceiling remains to be seen, as new alternative customers and foreign insurers, as well as Russia’s own large fleet of tankers, could help it to sidestep the cap and ultimately reduce reliance on Western buyers.
Russia Strikes Energy Infrastructure In Ukraine
Russia has apparently targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in a large-scale missile attack on Wednesday, striking multiple targets in the capital Kiev and elsewhere across the country.
Emergency power outages have occurred in all regions as a result of the assault, Ukraine’s national power grid operator Ukrenergo has reported.
Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said that there were explosions in various parts of the city and that water supplies had been cut off. He also mentioned power shortages.
According to Kiev’s military administration, a projectile hit a residential building, killing at least three people and wounding six others. However, it’s not yet clear if was a Russian missile or one fired by Ukrainian air defenses.
The whole of Odessa Region has been left without electricity amid the attack, local authorities said. In Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkov, the subway system has been paralyzed due to a power outage, with people being evacuated to the surface, the mayor said.
The South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the southern city of Nikolaev has been forced to shut down all of its reactors, according to media reports. The plant became the largest in Ukraine after Zaporozhye Region, which hosts the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, joined the Russian state last month as a result of a referendum.
The local authorities have also confirmed the stoppage of reactors at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant in western Ukraine.
Strikes and power outages have also been reported by officials in Lviv, Nikolaev, Khmelnytsky, Sumy and other locations.
The neighboring former Soviet Republic of Moldova has also experienced power shortages as a result of the Russian strikes on Ukraine. The country’s energy system is connected to that of Ukraine. There’ve been blackouts in the capital Chisinau and other parts of the country, with the breakaway region of Transnistria also being affected.
Russia has stepped up pressure on Ukraine since October 10, when it accused Kiev of using “terrorist tactics” and of targeting Russian infrastructure, including the strategic Crimean Bridge. Since then, missile strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities, including power stations, have led to rolling blackouts across the country. Kiev authorities said that at least 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been knocked out by the Russian attacks so far.
During his interview with the BBC at the weekend, Maksim Timchenko, the head of largest private power utility DTEK Holding, said that Ukrainians should consider going abroad during the winter. “If they can find an alternative place to stay for another three or four months, it will be very helpful to the system,” Timchenko stated.
Earlier this week, Kremlin press-secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was not seeking a regime change in Kiev as part of its military operation. He reiterated that Moscow did not rule out peace negotiations with Ukraine, saying that its goals in the country could be achieved “by various methods and in various formats.” And they will be achieved eventually, Peskov assured reporters.
U.S. Goal Is To Destroy Russia, Alleges Russian Official
The U.S. wants to weaken and destroy Russia, and is using Ukraine as a “battering ram” to achieve that goal, the secretary of Russia’s national Security Council has warned.
While Washington declares Russia “a source of instability,” it also fosters “anti-Russian alliances, builds up military strength, deploys NATO forces at our border,” Nikolay Patrushev said on Tuesday during a government meeting.
“The puppet Kiev regime, which took power through a coup that was supported by the U.S. and its closest allies, s being used as a battering ram against Russia,” Patrushev added, as quoted by TASS news agency. “The U.S. goal is to weaken, disunite and ultimately destroy our nation.”
The official claimed Washington will stop at nothing to achieve its “selfish goals” aimed at global supremacy and is pushing the world “towards a global war” through policies that pit other nations against each other.
Patrushev made the remarks during a meeting on Russian domestic security, which he chaired in the city of Bryansk. He called for possible safety lapses at strategic sites to be fixed, and said Ukrainian saboteurs pose an increasing threat to Russia and its people.
“Attempts to infiltrate Russian territory by members of radical and extremist structures, who seek to conduct sabotage activities and terrorist attacks, have significantly increased,” he stated. Transport and energy sites are of particular interest for would-be plotters, he stressed.
Patrushev added that Russian law enforcement agencies have thwarted 28 terrorism-related crimes this year, including nine attempted acts of sabotage.