Russian-Ukrainian War: US bans Russian energy imports, Ukrainians flee cities under fire
Washington/Lviv, Ukraine, March 8
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a ban on Russian imports of oil and other energy sources, a significant step in intensifying international pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end his assault devastating against Ukraine.
“Russia can continue to grind its lead at a horrible cost, but this is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city, but he can never hold the country,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
On the ground in Ukraine, the Kiev government has accused Russian forces of bombing a humanitarian corridor that Moscow had promised to open to allow residents to flee the beleaguered port of Mariupol.
The number of civilian deaths in the conflict has increased. And with the war in its 13th day, the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine to neighboring countries has exceeded 2 million.
Western sanctions imposed following the invasion have already cut Russia off from international trade and financial markets.
Russia is the world‘s largest exporter of oil and natural gas and, until now, its energy exports have been exempt from international sanctions.
“We ban all Russian oil and gas energy imports,” Biden said. “It means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in American ports and the American people will deliver another mighty blow to Putin’s war machine.”
The United States is not a major buyer of Russian oil, but Biden has worked with allies in Europe, which are much more dependent on Russian oil, to insulate Russia’s energy-intensive economy and Putin.
Britain announced shortly before Biden’s remarks that it would phase out imports of Russian oil and petroleum products by the end of 2022.
In Mariupol, hundreds of thousands of people took refuge under the bombardments without water or electricity for more than a week. Many tried to leave through a safe corridor on Tuesday, but Ukraine said it came under Russian fire.
“Ceasefire violated! Russian forces are now shelling the humanitarian corridor from Zaporizhia to Mariupol,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a child died of dehydration in Mariupol because the water was turned off. The claim could not be independently verified.
Russia on Tuesday opened a separate corridor allowing residents to exit the eastern city of Sumy, the first successful evacuation by such a safe route.
Buses left Sumy for Poltava further west, just hours after a Russian airstrike that regional officials said hit a residential area and killed 21 people.
The Russian Defense Ministry said 723 people had been evacuated through the Sumy-Poltava corridor, including 576 Indian nationals, in a first convoy.
Residents were also moving out of the town of Irpin, a frontline suburb of Kyiv.
The UN human rights office said it had verified 1,335 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 474 killed and 861 injured, since the invasion began on February 24. But the true toll would likely be higher, he said.
There were allegations of hundreds of civilian casualties in Volnovakha, Mariupol and other urban areas as a result of shelling and shelling of residential areas, he added.
Moscow denies targeting civilians. He describes his actions as a “special operation” aimed at disarming Ukraine and overthrowing leaders he calls neo-Nazis. Ukraine and its Western allies call it a baseless pretext to invade a country of 44 million people. Reuters
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