peaking on Thursday, Putin said European attempts to find alternatives to Russian gas shipments will be “quite painful for the initiators of such policies.”
He argued that “there is simply no reasonable replacement for it in Europe now.”
Putin noted that “supplies from other countries that could be sent to Europe, primarily from the United States, would cost consumers many times more.” He added it would “affect people’s standard of living and the competitiveness of the European economy.”
The European Union is dependent on Russia for 40pc of its natural gas and 25pc of its oil.
France’s government says it has frozen 33 properties on the French Riviera, Paris and elsewhere that belong to Russian oligarchs targeted for sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
The Finance Ministry this week published an updated list of Russian-owned properties that have been frozen in France, including a luxury chateau overlooking the Mediterranean on the Cap d’Antibes that reportedly belonged to sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Together, the 33 properties are estimated to be worth more than half a billion euros. Unlike property that is seized or confiscated, frozen properties still belong to their owners and they can continue living in them. But they cannot be sold or rented out.
The total value of Russian assets frozen or seized in France is now approaching €24 billion, with the bulk of that being nearly 23 billion euros in frozen financial assets for the Russian central bank. Aside from financial assets and properties, French authorities have also frozen or seized three yachts and four transport ships, and frozen six helicopters and three artworks.
Coveney visits Kyiv
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney is in Kyiv, the latest in a string of senior European politicians to make the trip to show support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian invasion.
Mr Coveney, who is also defence minister, is meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Ireland has sent Ukraine €20 million in humanitarian aid and €33 million in non-lethal military assistance, despite being a militarily neutral country.
Mr Coveney said an embargo on Russian oil needs to be included in the EU’s sixth sanctions package.
“We believe that we need to beyond what has currently been agreed by the EU to include an oil embargo in a sixth package of sanctions,” he told the press conference.
Minister Coveney said that Ireland will “strongly advocate” for Ukraine to become a member of the EU as quick as possible.
German authorities say they have seized a massive superyacht in Hamburg after determining that it belongs to the sister of Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.
The Federal Criminal Police Office said Wednesday that, after “extensive investigations” and despite “offshore concealment,” it had been able to determine that the owner is Gulbakhor Ismailova, Usmanov’s sister.
Superyacht Dilbar was launched in 2016 at a reported cost of more than $648 million.
The German police office said German authorities worked in Brussels to ensure that European Union sanctions applied to the owner. It says the yacht can no longer be sold, rented, or loaded.
The United States and EU last month announced economic sanctions against Usmanov, a metals magnate, over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.
A U.N. task force is warning in a new report that Russia’s war against Ukraine threatens to devastate the economies of many developing countries that are now facing even higher food and energy costs and increasingly difficult financial conditions.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the report on Wednesday stressing that the war is “supercharging” a crisis in food, energy and finance in poorer countries that were already struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and a lack of access to adequate funding for their economic recovery.
Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the U.N. agency promoting trade and development who coordinated the task force, said 107 countries have “severe exposure” to at least one dimension of the food, energy and finance crisis and 69 countries are severely exposed to all three and face “very difficult financial conditions with no fiscal space, and with no external financing to cushion the blow.”
The report urges countries to ensure a steady flow of food and energy through open markets, and it calls on international financial institutions to do everything possible to ensure more liquidity immediately.
Russia said on Thursday the flagship of its Black Sea fleet was seriously damaged and its crew evacuated following an explosion that a Ukrainian official said was the result of a missile strike.
Russia’s defence ministry said a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser caused ammunition to blow up, Interfax news agency reported.
It did not say what caused the fire but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said the Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.
“Neptune missiles guarding the Black Sea caused very serious damage,” he said in an online post.
Ukraine’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment and Reuters was unable to verify either side’s claims.
The Moskva is the second major ship known to have suffered serious damage since the start of the war. Last month Ukraine said it had destroyed a landing support ship, the Orsk, on the smaller Sea of Azov.
Russia’s navy has launched cruise missiles into Ukraine and its activities in the Black Sea are crucial to supporting land operations in the south of the country, where it is battling to seize full control of the port of Mariupol.
Russian news agencies said the Moskva, commissioned in 1983, was armed with 16 anti-ship Vulkan cruise missiles with a range of at least 700 km (440 miles).
Russia said 1,026 soldiers from Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, had surrendered in Mariupol and that the city was fully under its control. Ukraine’s defence ministry spokesman said he had no information about a surrender.
Capturing the Azovstal industrial district where the marines have been holed up would give Russia control of Ukraine’s main Sea of Azov port, reinforce a southern land corridor and expand its occupation of the country’s east.
“Russian forces are increasing their activities on the southern and eastern fronts, attempting to avenge their defeats,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Wednesday night video address.
Reuters journalists accompanying Russian-backed separatists saw flames billowing from the Azovstal area on Tuesday, a day after Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade said its troops had run out of ammunition.
The United States said on Wednesday it would send an extra $800 million worth of military hardware to Ukraine including artillery, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters. France and Germany also pledged more.
Senior U.S. officials are weighing whether to send a top cabinet member such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd to Kyiv in a show of solidarity, a source familiar with the situation said.
Russia will view U.S. and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as legitimate military targets, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS news agency.
It will impose tit-for-tat sanctions on 398 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 87 Canadian senators, Interfax cited the foreign ministry as saying, after Washington targeted 328 members of Russia’s lower house of parliament.
Britain announced new financial measures on separatists, and Australia imposed targeted financial sanctions on 14 Russian state-owned enterprises on Thursday.
Fiji said it was investigating the arrival of the superyacht Amadea, owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, who has been sanctioned by the United States, Britain and the European Union.
Ukraine says tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in Mariupol and accuses Russia of blocking aid convoys to civilians marooned there.
Its mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said Russia had brought in mobile crematoria “to get rid of evidence of war crimes” – a statement that was not possible to verify.
Moscow has blamed Ukraine for civilian deaths and accused Kyiv of denigrating Russian armed forces.
In the village of Lubianka northwest of Kyiv, from where Russian forces had tried and failed to subdue the capital before being driven away, a message to Ukrainians had been written on the wall of a house that had been occupied by Russian troops.
“We did not want this … forgive us,” it said.
The Kremlin says it launched a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “liberate” Ukraine from nationalist extremists, a message villagers said had been repeated to them by the Russian troops.
“To liberate us from what? We’re peaceful … We’re Ukrainians,” Lubianka resident Viktor Shaposhnikov said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said on a visit to Kyiv with his Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian counterparts that those who had committed and ordered crimes must be brought to justice.
Germany’s president did not join them as he had planned. Zelenskiy denied a newspaper report he had rejected the visit due to Steinmeier’s recent good relations with Moscow.
The Kremlin denounced President Joe Biden’s description of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine as amounting to genocide, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying this was unacceptable coming from the leader of a country he said had committed crimes of its own.
An initial report by a mission of experts set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe documents a “catalogue of inhumanity” by Russian troops in Ukraine, according to the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE.
“This includes evidence of direct targeting of civilians, attacks on medical facilities, rape, executions, looting and forced deportation of civilians to Russia,” Michael Carpenter said.
Russia has denied targeting civilians.
The Kyiv district police chief said 720 bodies had been found in the region around the capital from where Russian forces had retreated, with more than 200 people missing.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/putin-warns-eu-countries-banning-russian-gas-will-hit-their-economies-as-coveney-says-in-kyiv-new-sanctions-should-include-oil-41552502.html Putin warns EU countries banning Russian gas will hit their economies, as Coveney says in Kyiv new sanctions should include oil