EU proposes sanctioning Russian coal as NATO warns of further attacks in Ukraine
Updated: Jul 3
West hardens position as Zelensky talks of war crimes at UN Security Council
The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, put sanctions on Russian coal imports on the table as a package of measures to be signed off by EU member states.
The measures, if adopted, would be the 5th EU package of sanctions by the EU on Russia.
The proposals include a limited ban on Russian and Belarussian ships entering EU ports and an export ban on semi-conductors.
Today's announcement came following wide-spread suggestions at the weekend that Russian troops had committed war crimes in Ukraine, including in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
Ms von der Leyen said that it was "important to sustain utmost pressure on Putin and the Russian government at this critical point." She asserted that EU sanctions had "hit hard and limited the Kremlin's political and economic options." Ms von der Leyen added, however that "clearly, in view of events, we need to increase our pressure further."
"Clearly, in view of events, we need to increase our pressure further." European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen
Watch: European Commission President talks about today's sanctions' proposals
EU far-reaching sanctions
The EU is proposing further sanctions in 6 specific areas:
an import ban on Russian coal, worth €4 billion per year.
a transaction ban on 4 Russian banks, including VTB, the second largest Russian bank
a ban on Russian ships and Russian-operated ships from accessing EU ports (although the ban will not include agriculture or food products, humanitarian aid or energy deliveries) as well as a ban on Russian and Belarusian road vehicles from entering the EU.
export bans, worth €10bn, including on computers, semiconductors, "sensitive" machinery and transportation equipment.
import bans, worth €5.5 bn on products from wood to cement, from seafood to alcohol
a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in EU Member States, or an exclusion of all EU financial support to Russian public bodies.
German Finance Minister calls Russian energy dependence a "mistake"
EU member states will need to agree to the sanctions before they come into force.
However, earlier today both the German and French Finance Ministers, Christian Lindner and Bruno Le Maire, indicated that sanctions on Russian coal were on the table.
Both men indicated that the aim was to reduce Russian energy imports into the EU over time.
Speaking at the end of a meeting of EU Economics' ministers, Mr Lindner, went further, calling his country's historic reliance on Russian energy a "mistake".
The German Government has come under criticism for refusing to support an import ban of Russian gas, due to the importance of this for the German economy.
"It was a mistake of German policy to be so dependent on Russia" German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner
Watch: German Finance Minister calls his country's dependence on Russia "a mistake"
NATO Secretary-General warns of Russia Donbas-Crimea landbridge attempt
Elsewhere on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg warned of further Russian attacks in Ukraine.
Addressing reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers tomorrow and Thursday, he said that NATO expected a "further Russian push" in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Mr Stoltenberg said that this was "in order to try to take the entire Donbas and create a land-bridge to occupied Crimea."
Watch: NATO Secretary-General warns of possible "land-bridge" creation by Russia
Zelensky to UN Security Council "Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves"
Later on Tuesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed a meeting of the UN Security Council via video-link.
He said that Russia had been committing war crimes in Ukraine, including rape and abducting children. Mr Zelensky said that "Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves".
"Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves" Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky
The Ukrainian President went on to say that Russia should be removed from the Security Council.
He finished his remarks by playing a graphic 1 minute video purportedly showing alleged war crimes by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council. Picture Credit: United Nations
US calls to suspend Russia from Human Rights Council
The United States' UN Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield - also speaking at the meeting - called for Russia to be suspended from the organisation's Human Rights' Council.
The United Nations' Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres also spoke. He called the situation in Ukraine "one of the greatest challenges ever to the International order and the global peace architecture founded on the United Nations Charter."