Ukraine: US announces new sanctions, hitting Putin′s daughters, major Russian banks — as it happened | News | DW | 06.04.2022

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Ukraine: US announces new sanctions, hitting Putin's daughters, major Russian banks — as it happened

Washington has placed full sanctions on Russia's Sberbank and Alfa Bank, along with targeting President Putin's adult daughters.

Three photos cut together showing, from left to right: Katerina Tikhonova, Vladimir Putin and Mariya Vorontsova.

The US says Putin's family could help hide his assets

  • New US sanctions against Sberbank, Alfa Bank, Vladimir Putin's adult daughters
  • EU Council president believes sanctions on Russian gas will eventually be necessary
  • Top US general says Ukraine war could last for years
  • Zelenskyy aware of renewed Russian offensive in east
  • US expected to enact new sanctions on Wednesday

This live updates article is now closed, for the latest on Russia's invasion, please click here 

Ukrainian town near Kharkiv comes under fire

The town of Lozova in the Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region has come under fire from Russian forces, local officials said.

Lozova mayor Serhiy Zelenskyy said that there were no initial reports of casualties.

According to local media, around 10,000 people have been evacuated from the town over the past 48 hours. Lozova had a population of around 54,000 before the start of the war.

France's Macron responds to Polish PM Morawiecki on Putin talks

President Emmanuel Macron denounced statements by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who had earlier criticized Macron for negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Morawiecki compared Putin to Adolf Hitler and said that Europe shouldn't negotiate with "criminals."

"How many times have you negotiated with Putin? What did you achieve?" Morawiecki said on Monday, addressing France's president.

"You can't negotiate with criminals. Criminals need to be fought," he said. "You would negotiate with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot."

Watch video 04:31

War in Ukraine influences French presidential campaign

Macron told France's TF1 radio station on Wednesday that such statements were "both baseless and scandalous," adding that they threatened to undermine EU unity.

Macron said that Morawiecki belonged to a "far-right party" and was supporting his rival Marine Le Pen of the National Rally. France is scheduled to hold two rounds of presidential elections this month, one on April 10 and one on April 24.

5,000 civilians have died in Mariupol siege, says mayor

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said that over 5,000 civilians have been killed during Russia's siege of the strategic port city over the last month.

Boichenko added that more than 90% of the city's infrastructure was destroyed by Russian shelling. Russian forces have also bombed hospitals, including one where 50 people burned to death, he said. 

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy said Russia was blocking humanitarian access to Mariupol because it wants to conceal evidence of "thousands" of people who have been killed there.

"They will not be able to hide all of this and bury all of these Ukrainians who died and who are injured. It's just such a number, it's thousands of people, it's impossible to hide," he said.

Watch video 02:40

Doctor describes unspeakable conditions in Mariupol

Red Cross brings Mariupol refugees to safety

A convoy of seven buses and at least 40 private cars carrying Ukrainian evacuees led by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Zaporizhzhia, a city in southeast Ukraine.

The convoy had attempted to reach the besieged city of Mariupol 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast but was unable to make it that far.

The ICRC said on Twitter that around 1,000 evacuees in total were escorted to Zaporizhzhia in the operation.

Most of them had been able to flee Mariupol on their own and were evacuated from nearby Berdiansk, where they had hunkered down after being internally displaced.

ICRC spokesperson Lucile Marbeau said, " These people have really gone through the worst."

"This convoy's arrival to Zaporizhzhia is a huge relief for hundreds of people who have suffered immensely and are now in a safer location. It's clear, though, that thousands more civilians trapped inside Mariupol need safe passage out and aid to come in," Pascal Hundt, the ICRC's head of delegation in Ukraine, said in a statement.

NATO expects Ukraine war could last 'years'

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to give up on his ambition to control Ukraine, and warned that the war could "for many months, for even years."

Stoltenberg added that NATO intelligence indicates Russia is preparing for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine with the aim of capturing the entire Donbas region to create a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula.

"We need to support Ukraine, sustain our sanctions and strengthen our defenses and our deterrence," he told reporters in Brussels at the opening of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

Liana Fix, a historian and political scientist with the Körber Foundation in Germany, told DW that it is clear NATO is trying to establish a "red line" when responding to extreme escalation by Russia, including deployment of chemical or tactical nuclear weapons.

"There are no details given on what a strong response would look like," she said. "The only difficulty there is that, for instance, President Obama established a red line in Syria which was crossed and there were no significant consequences," she added.

Watch video 00:31

Stoltenberg: 'No indication that Putin has changed his ambition'

US sanctions Putin's daughters and top Russian banks

The US has said it will impose "severe and immediate economic costs on the Putin regime for its atrocities in Ukraine, including in Bucha."

This includes freezing the US assets of Putin's daughters, Mariya Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, and cutting them off from the US financial system. 

Washington also said it will apply "full blocking" sanctions on Sberbank and Alfa Bank, Russia's largest public and private financial institutions.

This will block exposure of the bank's assets to the US financial system and prohibit US persons from doing business with them.

Other Russian elite targeted are Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the wife and children of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and members of Russia's Security Council, including former President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 

"These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ukraine," a White House statement said. 

Washington said the new sanctions were in response to "war crimes" committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the European Commission proposed its next raft of Russia sanctions, with officials in Brussels saying a decision is expected by the end of this week.

Watch video 00:34

German chancellor: 'The murder of civilians is a war crime'

Ukrainian authorities call for mass evacuations in eastern provinces

Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has called for residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv provinces to evacuate their homes immediately as Russian forces are said to be repositioning for an assault.

"The head of the military administrations of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions are asking the population to leave these regions," she said on Ukrainian television.

"It is necessary now because later people will be under fire and threatened with death. They will not be able to do anything against it and we will not be able to help," Vereshchuk said.

"It is necessary to evacuate while there is such a possibility. At the moment, it is still there," she added.

Earlier on Wednesday, regional governor for the part of the Luhansk region Ukraine still controls, Serhiy Haidai, warned of more fighting in the region as Russian troops reposition. "I think that in three to four days they will try to launch an offensive," Haidai said.

Watch video 01:28

Eastern Ukraine braces for more heavy fighting

EU has spent €35 billion on Russian energy since start of Ukraine war

Speaking to the European Parliament, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc had spent €35 billion ($38 million) on Russian gas, oil and coal since the Ukraine war began in late February.

Borrell cited the number to reemphasize the importance of reducing the EU's dependence on Russian energy imports.

"A billion euro is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he provides us since the beginning of the war. We have given him €35 billion. Compare that to the €1 billion that we have given to the Ukraine in arms and weapons,'' Borrell said.

He added the EU would need to expand renewable energy to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and that the fight against climate change now goes hand in hand with geopolitics.

Watch video 01:23

Russia energy ban: Why is it so controversial in the EU?

Hungary's Orban offers to host peace talks, says oil and gas sanctions unacceptable

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.

"His response was positive, but with conditions," Orban told a press conference, without elaborating.

The Hungarian leader, who was re-elected on Sunday, added he has invited Putin to Budapest along with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for talks.

Orban is seen as having one of the closest relationships of any EU leader with Putin

Orban also said that Hungary would not have a problem paying for Russian gas in rubles if asked to do so by Moscow. He added that Hungary does not support expanding EU sanctions to oil and gas imports from Russia.

Russia is demanding that EU countries pay for gas imports in rubles in a bid to prop up the currency. However, most European countries have refused, saying existing contracts are set in euros or dollars.

ICRC help 500 who fled Mariupol to reach a safe haven

A convoy of buses and private cars carrying more than 500 civilians who had fled Mariupol has arrived in Zaporizhzhia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

"This convoy's arrival to Zaporizhzhia is a huge relief for hundreds of people who have suffered immensely and are now in a safer location,'' Pascal Hundt, ICRC's head of delegation in Ukraine, said.

"It's clear, though, that thousands more civilians trapped inside Mariupol need safe passage out and aid to come in,'' he added.

The ICRC said it had tried to reach Mariupol for several days but the security situation in the city has made it impossible.

"We stand ready to facilitate the safe passage of people from Mariupol and other cities," it added.

Zelenskyy: Some Western leaders fear economic loss more than war crimes

Speaking to the Irish parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused some Western leaders of considering financial losses to be worse than war crimes.

"When we are hearing new rhetoric about sanctions ... I can't tolerate any indecisiveness after everything that Russian troops have done," he said referring to the atrocities revealed recently in Bucha.

"The only thing that we are lacking is the principled approach of some leaders — political leaders, business leaders — who still think that war and war crimes are not something as horrific as financial losses," added Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian president also called on Ireland to convince its European Union partners to introduce "more rigid" measures against Russia.

Germany's Scholz calls on Putin to end Ukraine war

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine and remove Russian forces from the country. 

Scholz said Russian soldiers committed a massacre on Ukrainian civilians in Bucha. He added that those responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable. 

In a speech to lawmakers on Wednesday, the German leader defended his government's decision to send arms to Ukraine while also ensuring Germany and other NATO members are not active participants in the war. Scholz added that Germany would continue to support Ukraine "in all ways we can."

"It must be our goal that Russia does not win this war," Scholz said, adding that Germany was in confidential talks with Ukraine over potential security guarantees.

Watch video 02:34

Bucha: Mounting evidence of atrocities against civilians

China calls the carnage in Bucha 'deeply disturbing'

China has described reports of civilian deaths in Bucha as "deeply disturbing" and called for an investigation.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian added that no blame should be apportioned until all facts are known.

"The truth and the cause of the incident must be verified," Zhao said. "All parties should exercise restraint and avoid unfounded accusations before a conclusion of the investigation is drawn."

Russia has made a series of unfounded claims that the carnage in Bucha was staged, but images from several different sources rebut Russia's assertions.

China has previously called for talks while refusing to criticize Russia.

Beijing opposes economic sanctions on Moscow and blames Washington and NATO for provoking the war and fueling the conflict by sending arms to Ukraine.

Watch video 02:45

Civilians in Bucha describe life under Russian occupation

Russia wants diplomatic relations despite expulsions of diplomats

Russia wants to maintain diplomatic relations with Western countries despite a series of expulsions of its diplomats, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.

Greece became the latest European country to expel Russian diplomats. The Greek Foreign Ministry declared 12 diplomats "personae non-gratae" and ordered them to leave.

Grushko's comments come after France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy expelled Russian diplomats earlier this week. 

"Nevertheless, our position remains absolutely the same: we advocate for diplomatic channels to remain open," he said.

Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said, "For every such unfriendly act, we will give an appropriate response."

She warned the suspensions would "lead de facto to putting bilateral relations into suspended animation."

Watch video 03:02

'There's a real hardening of tone' among Ukrainians: Nick Connolly

Ukraine says Russia's war has killed 167 children so far

The Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said 167 children have been killed and 279 wounded in the war so far. 

Of the total, 78 children were killed or injured in the Kyiv region, the office said.

A further 112 children have died or were wounded in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the latest targets of Russian aggression. There were also fatalities in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mykolaiv.

DW was not able to immediately verify the report.

Pope calls for an end to the war while holding up Ukrainian flag

Pope Francis kissed a battered Ukrainian flag that was brought to him from Bucha.

"This flag comes from the war, from that martyred city Bucha ... Let us not forget them. Let us not forget the people of Ukraine," he said during his weekly audience.

"Cruelty that is increasingly horrendous, even against civilians, defenseless women and children. They are victims whose innocent blood cries out up to heaven and implores: 'Stop this war!'" he said.

The pontiff has criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine several times and said last week he was considering a trip to Ukraine.

EU leaders consider more energy sanctions on Russia

The European Union will have to ban oil and gas imports from Russia to put pressure on Moscow to stop its war in Ukraine, EU Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday.

"I think that measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later," Michel told the European Parliament.

So far, EU leaders are considering a ban on Russian coal — but not oil or gas — as part of a new package of sanctions in response to possible war crimes in Bucha.

"Now we have to look into oil and revenues Russia gets from fossil fuels," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European lawmakers. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday the EU was working on a plan to end purchases of Russian fossil fuels altogether.

Austria and Hungary, however, were opposed to Russian oil and gas sanctions.

Map showing Russian gas pipelines to Europe

According to the International Energy Agency, Russian natural gas accounted for almost 40% of European Union gas demand in 2021.

The EU is the second-largest importer of Russian oil after China.

Ukraine's minister for foreign affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, has called on the EU to go further, saying "difficult times require difficult decisions."

14 Russian yachts held in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has prevented 14 Russian-owned yachts from leaving Dutch harbors.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 12 vessels under construction were held at the shipyards. Another two that were in for maintenance are also being held.

Yacht building is a major industry in the Netherlands.

France, Italy, and Spain have seized several boats of billionaires since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Luhansk civilians urged to leave while it is still possible

Luhansk regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, has urged residents to get out "while it is safe."

"I appeal to every resident of the Luhansk region, evacuate while it is safe ... While there are buses and trains, take this opportunity," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Earlier, Ukraine's general staff had warned Russian forces were regrouping and preparing "to establish complete control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.''

Parts of the two regions have been under the control of Russia-backed rebels since 2014.

Hungary's Foreign Ministry summons Ukrainian ambassador

Ukraine's ambassador to Hungary was summoned by the Foreign Ministry over "offensive statements" on Hungary's stance regarding the war.

"It is time for Ukrainian leaders to stop their insults directed at Hungary," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

In a Facebook post, Szijjarto said Hungary condemned the Russian invasion, allowed refugees and supported Ukraine's territorial integrity.

However, he added, "This is not our war, so we want and will stay out of it."

He said Hungary would not send weapons to Ukraine or support energy sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Hungary Lyubov Nepop has been very outspoken in calling on Budapest to do more to support its neighbor.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has won a fourth term by a landslide in the country's general election over the weekend.

He slammed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the EU in a victory speech calling them, calling them "opponents."

UK: Situation in Mariupol 'worsening'

The humanitarian situation in the besieged city of Mariupol is worsening, according to British military intelligence.

In its latest intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said heavy fighting and Russian airstrikes have continued in the southern Ukrainian city.

"Most of the 160,000 remaining residents have no light, communication, medicine, heat or water," the ministry said.

It accuses Russian forces of blocking humanitarian access to the city.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces would "liberate" Mariupol from Ukrainian "nationalists."

It fits with Moscow's stated goal to control the Donbas region in Ukraine's east, including Mariupol.

US approves transfer of anti-armor weaponry to Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States has approved a further $100 million (€91.3 million) in military aid to Ukraine, including anti-armor systems.

Blinken said that Ukraine was in urgent need of anti-armor weaponry.

The transfer will be funded as part of the $13.6 billion (€12.5) in aid for Ukraine earmarked by the US Congress.

Since the beginning of last year, US military assistance to Ukraine has totaled $2.4 billion (€2.2 billion).

400 residents missing from Kyiv suburb Hostomel — Ukrainian authorities

The head of the local Ukrainian military administration in the town of Hostomel said that around 400 residents were missing after 35 days of Russian occupation.

Hostomel is located northwest of Kyiv and is home to an airport of the same name that receives international cargo planes. Most of its 16,000 residents have fled the area.

Taras Dumenko said authorities were currently searching basements in the town to find missing residents. He said that the bodies of a number of civilians who are known to have been killed have yet to be found.

Several Hostomel residents have been found in Bucha, which lies immediately south of Hostomel.

Ukrainian troops took back control of Hostomel a few days ago, along with the nearby settlements of Bucha and Irpin.

Watch video 04:15

'Very hard to see' how Bucha killings 'could be staged': DW's Nick Connolly

New Zealand to impose new Russia sanctions

New Zealand will impose new sanctions against Russia, the government announced.

The government said that it would impose a 35% tariff on all imports from Russia as well as a ban on the export of certain products such as ICT equipment and engines.

"The images and reports emerging of atrocities committed against civilians in Bucha and other regions of Ukraine is abhorrent and reprehensible, and New Zealand continues to respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin's mindless acts of aggression," Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.

“These tariff increases work in conjunction with the international community as we seek to pressure Putin’s regime," she added.

US chipmaker Intel suspends Russia operations

US semiconductor firm Intel has announced it is suspending its operations in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine effective immediately.

"Intel continues to join the global community in condemning Russia's war against Ukraine and calling for a swift return to peace," the company said. 

"We are working to support all of our employees through this difficult situation, including our 1,200 employees in Russia," Intel added. "We have also implemented business continuity measures to minimize disruption to our global operations." 

Zelenskyy says Ukrainian army holding back Russian forces

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address that the Ukrainian army was holding back Russian forces as they tried to push deep into Ukraine.

Zelenskyy added that Russia was gathering up reinforcements for a fresh offensive. He said that Ukraine was outnumbered in terms of both troops and equipment.

US general: Ukraine conflict could last for 'years'

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the US Department of Defense, said in testimony to Congress that the war in Ukraine could last for years.

"I do think this is a very protracted conflict and I think it is at least measured in years," Milley said.

Milley added that the US and other countries supporting Ukraine will be "involved in this for quite some time."

The general said that the US should establish "permanent bases" in eastern Europe, but with "rotational" rather than permanently stationed troops.

"My advice would be to create permanent bases but don't permanently station (forces), so you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces cycling through permanent bases," Milley said, adding that the Baltic States, Romania and Poland would be willing to pay for such bases.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that expansion of the US military presence in eastern Europe was a "work in progress," adding that the issue will probably be discussed at the NATO summit in June.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday

The British Foreign Ministry said that the UK had frozen some $350 billion (€321 billion) in assets of what they called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "war chest."

Italy, Spain and Slovenia expelled Russian diplomats from their soil, in response to the atrocities in the city of Bucha, Ukraine.

The medical charity group Doctors Without Borders, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said in a statement that its team had witnessed bombings in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.

Estonia decided to close the consulate general of the Russian Federation in Narva and the consular office of the Russian Embassy in Tartu. Latvia also decided to close two Russian consulates and expel their staff.

Watch video 04:57

Moldovan PM: 'We are very determined to stay part of the free world'

Germany said it would loan Moldova €50 million ($55 million) on top of a support package of €40 million to help it cope with the influx of refugees.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Ukrainian television that he would consider it a victory if Russian troops returned behind the "line of contact" in the Donbas region, which has separated Moscow-backed militias from the rest of Ukraine since 2014.

Zelenskyy said that if Ukraine tried to retake the occupied territories in Luhansk and Donetsk by force today, it would cost Ukrainians hundreds of thousands of lives.

Watch video 01:08

Zelenskyy addresses UN Security Council

Ukraine's leader also addressed the UN Security Council, saying the killings of civilians in Bucha represents "only one" example of Russian atrocities in his country.   

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba calling for talks to end the conflict in Ukraine.

wmr,lo,sdi/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, PAP)

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