The European Union is going to advance, “as a matter of urgency”, in the preparation of new sanctions against Russia after the “atrocities” that have shaken the world in recent hours. The community bloc condemns in the “strongest terms” the massacres committed by the Russian armed forces in several occupied Ukrainian cities and that have now been liberated, as the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, advanced on Monday. Shortly before, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had asked for tougher sanctions after hundreds of bodies of civilians allegedly killed by Russian troops appeared in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of kyiv. Different world leaders have denounced the events in recent hours, something that China has not done, which maintains its calculated equidistance in favor of Russia in the Ukraine war.
To date, the EU has approved four retaliatory packages against the Kremlin, but the latest round dates back to March 15, almost four weeks ago. The Baltic countries, which are among the most belligerent against Russia, denounce that a certain “sanction fatigue” has spread in Brussels and have been demanding for days that decisive steps be taken to take more drastic measures, such as cutting energy imports from Russia.
Already last week, the European Commission multiplied its contacts with the allies to refine a possible fifth package of sanctions focused, above all, on reinforcing the four blows already dealt and closing holes through which the Kremlin could be dodging retaliation . In the crosshairs of the EU are, among others, the relatives of the already sanctioned oligarchs.
For now, Brussels was reluctant to go much further in its retaliation against Moscow. Although at the same time, the Community Executive has reiterated on different occasions that it is working hard on larger sanctions, in order to respond to extreme situations caused by Russia, such as a chemical attack. This weekend’s revelations could mark one of those turning points.
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Among the next steps being considered is one of the most extreme: cutting off the fuel import tap from Russia, which brings in some 700 million euros a day to the coffers of Vladimir Putin’s regime, a measure that is several capitals resist, with Berlin at the forefront. The terrifying images that arrive from Ukraine and the confirmation of Russian brutality can put an end to the reluctance that persists among some of the community partners.
Borrell came out this Monday to once again show the support of the community bloc for Ukraine. In “these dark hours for the whole world”, the Twenty-seven show “full” solidarity with Ukraine, a country that they will continue to “firmly” support, while preparing new sanctions and helping to collect evidence so that those responsible for the “massacres” ” be brought before international justice, the socialist pointed out in a statement on behalf of the EU.
“The EU will continue to firmly support Ukraine and will advance, as a matter of urgency, in the work on new sanctions against Russia”, affirmed the European High Representative for Foreign and Defense Policy, after referring to the “disturbing images” of civilian deaths in buca. These deaths, as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructure, show “the true face of the brutal war of aggression that Russia is waging against Ukraine and its people,” Borrell stressed, after asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop this war. started on February 24, immediately and without conditions.”
For Borrell, the “massacres” in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns “will be inscribed on the list of atrocities committed on European soil.” “The Russian authorities are responsible for these atrocities, committed while they were in effective control of the area. They are subject to the international law of occupation”, highlighted the Spanish politician. For this reason, he has affirmed that “the perpetrators of war crimes and other serious violations, as well as responsible government officials and military leaders, will be held accountable.”
The Twenty-seven support “fully” the investigation initiated by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court into war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the work of the Commission of Inquiry of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights . In addition, the EU is assisting the Ukrainian Prosecutor General and Civil Society by focusing on the collection and preservation of evidence of war crimes, Borrell recalled.
In this sense, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced this Sunday in a report that “summary executions” and “other serious abuses” that could constitute war crimes have been committed in the areas of Ukraine under Russian control. The NGO claims to have documented between February 27 and March 14 several cases in which Russian forces committed what would constitute war crimes against civilians in occupied areas in the Chernihiv, Kharkov and kyiv regions.
Criticism from other leaders
Several world leaders have denounced these events in recent hours. The last has been the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who has described this Monday as “unacceptable” the violence of the Kremlin troops during their withdrawal. In an interview on the France Inter radio station, the French president has spoken of “very clear evidence” indicating Moscow’s responsibility in the Bucha massacre and has asked for measures to be taken against “coal and oil” coming from Russia, although not You mentioned gas.
Yes, the German Defense Minister, Christine Lambrecht, has referred to this raw material, who this Sunday pointed out that the European Union must now discuss the ban on the import of Russian gas, something that the leaders have been reluctant to do until now.
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, and Antony Blinken, has described the images of the bodies as a “punch in the gut”: “We strongly condemn the apparent atrocities of the Kremlin forces in Bucha and in the rest of Ukraine. We will seek accountability using all available tools, documenting and sharing information so that those responsible are brought to justice”, he has written.
For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned what he has described as “despicable attacks”. Several sources confirm that the United Kingdom is also considering carrying out new sanctions against the Putin regime.
The criticism does not seem to reach the Government of China, which is silent on Monday in the face of the situation in Ukraine and does not abandon its calculated equidistance in favor of Russia, reports Inma Bonet from Beijing. Chinese-language state media did not report what happened in Bucha on Monday, after governments around the world criticized the attacks on Sunday. China Central Television has as usual left reporting on the Ukraine war for the end of its news segment, without making any mention of barbarism.
For its part, the Chinese state media in English (such as the Global Times newspaper, owned by the Communist Party and with a nationalist tone, or the CGTN television network) have limited themselves to reporting that the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has convicted and called for an independent investigation into the massacre. In their coverage they report that the Russian Foreign Ministry has denied the veracity of the videos that the Ukrainian government has released and that Moscow considers a “provocation”. Some users on social networks also doubt the veracity of the images.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the Asian giant has avoided calling it an invasion or war and has adopted a position of neutrality leaning towards Russia. Although it has shown its concern about the humanitarian crisis and has called for a peaceful solution, Beijing opposes international sanctions and blames NATO and the United States for not having taken Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns” into account. Today is a national holiday in China as the Qingming Festival (or Tomb Sweeping Day) is celebrated on Tuesday, so the Foreign Ministry is not expected to break its silence.