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Lviv — Germany said on Sunday that the West would agree to impose more sanctions on Russia in the coming days after Ukraine accused Russian forces of war crimes near Kyiv, ratcheting up the already vast economic pressure on Russia over its invasion.
Russia’s economy is facing the gravest crisis since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union after the US and its allies imposed crippling sanctions due to Putin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Russia on Sunday denied its forces were responsible for the deaths of civilians in the town of Bucha and said Ukraine had staged a performance for the Western media.
Bodies lay strewn across the town. One appeared to have his hands bound by the white cloth, and to have been shot in the mouth. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of carrying out a “genocide”.
A Ukrainian prosecutor said on Sunday the bodies of 410 civilians had been recovered in the Kyiv region after the withdrawal of Russian forces.
The West warned of more sanctions.
“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences” of their actions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement to reporters in the chancellery.
German defence minister Christine Lambrecht said the EU should talk about ending Russian gas imports.
Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the EU must impose harsher sanctions on Russia and supply Ukraine with more arms. He also called for an international tribunal to investigate the Bucha killings. “The crimes Russia has committed ... must be called acts of genocide and be dealt with as such,” he said.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has so far resisted calls to impose an embargo on energy imports from Russia, saying its economy and that of other European countries are too dependent on them. Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s gas needs.
The US said that those responsible for any war crimes must be held responsible, Britain said it was stepping up its sanctions and France condemned “huge abuses” by Russian forces in Ukraine.
The Kremlin says the West’s sanctions — the most burdensome in modern history — amount to a declaration of economic war and that Moscow will now look eastward to partners such as China and India.
Largely cut off from the West’s economies, Russia is facing the biggest economic contraction for decades while prices are rising. Putin said that the West understands nothing about Russia if it thinks Russians will give in to sanctions.
Still, cutting off Russian gas — or more of Russia’s natural resources — would wipe out growth in Europe’s biggest economies, send energy prices to records and propel an inflationary shock wave through the global economy.
Russia, which has supplied gas to Europe since the 1970s, would be deprived of hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign currency earnings. It would likely toughen its response to the “economic war” of the West.
“The world is much bigger than Europe — and in fact Russia is much bigger than Europe — so sooner or later we will have a dialogue no matter what people across the ocean want,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Channel One state television.
Ukraine called for a full oil, gas and coal embargo, a ban on Russian vessels and cargos and the disconnection of all Russian banks from Swift.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people and displaced millions.
Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the US was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian-speaking people by Ukraine.
Ukraine says Moscow launched a war of aggression and that Putin's claims of persecution are nonsense.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.