The European Union is close to an agreement on a sixth sanctions package that would include an oil embargo against Russia, a senior EU official said on Monday.
The package has stalled in recent days due to an objection from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has apparently been granted an indefinite exemption after repeatedly claiming his country’s economy would collapse without Russian oil. All 27 EU countries must agree for the package to be approved.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said on Monday that “the time has come” for the latest sanctions plan.
“I’m convinced that we can all make a decision together,” Michel said. “We have made progress over the past few hours and hopefully we can come to a decision on this important matter.”
The New York Times said the embargo was in a draft agreement leaders were expected to adopt on Monday. The Times said the measure would ban all Russian oil transported to the European Union by tankers – but allow crude oil to arrive by pipeline. It would still outright ban two-thirds of all oil brought into the bloc from Russia, based on a draft seen by The Times.
Orban, who arrived in Brussels on Monday for a two-day summit, said he would support the embargo if he allowed the pipeline. This, he said, would avoid “dropping a nuclear bomb” on his country’s economy. Hungary depends on Russia for more than 60% of oil and 85% of natural gas.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed doubts about a deal being struck at the summit.
“I don’t expect it to be resolved in the next 48 hours,” she said.
►Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is ready to resume a role in ending the war, including participating in a possible “observation mechanism” between Ukraine, Russia and UN Negotiations in Istanbul held in March did not progress.
►French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was killed Monday in Ukraine while trying to show the “reality of war”, announced French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron said Lecler-Imhoff was on a humanitarian bus alongside civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs near Sievierodonetsk, a key town in the Donbass region.
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The United States has no plans to send rocket systems capable of hitting Russia to Ukraine, President Joe Biden said Monday. Ukrainian officials have requested longer-range systems, including the multiple-launch rocket system which has a range of hundreds of kilometres. The administration is working on the details of a new set of equipment.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, called Biden’s comment a “reasonable” move.
“Otherwise, if our cities are attacked, the Russian armed forces would fulfill (their) threat and hit the centers where such criminal decisions are made,” Medvedev said, adding that “some of them are not in Kyiv.”
Russia probably suffered devastating losses among its middle and junior officers, said the British Ministry of Defense in its latest war report. Assessments indicate that brigade and battalion commanders likely deploy forward at risk because they are held to an uncompromising level of accountability for the performance of their units. The loss of much of the younger generation of professional officers will “likely exacerbate its lingering problems” in modernizing command and control.
“With multiple credible reports of localized mutinies among Russian forces in Ukraine, the lack of experienced and credible platoon and company commanders will likely lead to further low morale and continued poor discipline,” the assessment said.
Russians banned from some sports but not the National Hockey League
National Hockey League playoffs features Russians to loud applause in arenas across the United States and Canada, even as Russians in sports from football to tennis have been banned. A total of 56 Russians skated in the NHL during the regular season, about 5% of the total number of players, and 29 made the playoffs, just under 8%. Russian players said little about Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’
“Everyone is doing their best under incredibly trying circumstances,” Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press. “Our players play for their NHL teams, no matter where they come from. Learn more here.
Contribute: The Associated Press