The U.S, EU and Germany all said Sunday they would prepare more sanctions against Russia after evidence of atrocities near Kyiv.
Biden administration officials have discussed intensifying their sanctions campaign against Russia as evidence emerges of the apparent execution of civilians in a suburb near Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
Reports of civilian massacres in Bucha led to swift international condemnation and claims of war crimes from world leaders, as well as pledges to escalate the West’s economic measures against Russia. Ukrainian officials have asked for an investigation by the International Criminal Court into mass graves in Bucha that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called “brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.”
The Biden administration could impose sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy that it has not hit so far, including mining, transportation and additional areas of the Russian financial sector. The world continues to buy billions of dollars worth of Russian oil and gas, giving the Kremlin a direct financial lifeline. Officials stressed that planning was preliminary and no decisions had been made about potential responses.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday that the United States and its European partners are discussing new sanctions to impose on Russia “every single day.” Blinken stressed that the measures so far are already projected to cause Russia’s economy to contract by 10 percent this year, but condemned Russia’s “brutality” and said more measures are likely to be necessary.
Ukraine has pressed the administration to curb Russian vessels’ access to international waterways, to choke off its energy exports and to sanction far more government officials and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Europe continues to depend on Russian energy, and cutting off that vital financial lifeline could devastate European economies.
The EU said it is also preparing to introduce more sanctions against Moscow after the reports of atrocities emerged in the wake of Russia’s military retreat from the outskirts of Kyiv.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said further sanctions were “on their way” in response to Russia’s actions in Bucha, a city about 25km north-west of central Kyiv that was under Russian occupation until recently, the London Financial Times reported Sunday.
“Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region,” Michel said on Twitter on Sunday. “Further EU sanctions & support are on their way. EU is assisting Ukraine & NGOs in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts.”
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock vowed to “intensify sanctions against Russia and provide even more support for the defence of Ukraine”, while her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian called for “the strongest possible international economic pressure” on Moscow. Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas asked for “a fifth round of strong EU sanctions as soon as possible”.
Existing EU measures include banning seven Russian banks from the global Swift payments network, a block on exports of key technologies to Russia including for the defense, energy, telecoms and aviation sectors, a ban on Russian airlines from its airspace, and asset freezes against hundreds of Russian oligarchs and officials, including Putin. Future measures proposed by some member states include more individual sanctions, a ban on Russian ships using EU ports, more export restrictions and embargoes on energy supplies such as coal, oil or gas — long demanded by Ukraine but previously resisted by some major European economies.
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, Reuters reported Sunday.
Russia’s economy is facing the gravest crisis since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union after the United States and its allies imposed crippling sanctions due to Putin’s Feb. 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.
“Putin and his supporters will feel the consequences” of their actions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement to reporters.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said the European Union should talk about ending Russian gas imports.
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.