The US and top allies will ban the import of Russian oil and impose a new round of sanctions, world leaders said Sunday.
The moves, announced after a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are meant to further pressure Russia to ends its war with Ukraine, which started Feb. 24. Only the US had previously committed to a Russian oil import ban.
Following the G7’s virtual meeting with Zelenskyy, the leaders’ released a statement condemning Russian actions and underscoring their commitment to helping Ukraine.
“Today, we, the G7, reassured President Zelenskyy of our continued readiness to undertake further commitments to help Ukraine secure its free and democratic future, such that Ukraine can defend itself now and deter future acts of aggression,” the leaders said.
The announcement comes hours after first lady Jill Biden traveled to Ukraine to meet with Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden and G7 leaders held the virtual call with Zelenskyy one day before Russia will celebrate Victory Day, the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the Victory Day holiday to make an announcement about the war in Ukraine – either declaring a victory or escalating the conflict.
The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US:
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MostAlmost 7,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the war in Ukraine started in February, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
ForcesUkrainian forces have been making gains against Russian troops and may be able to push them out of artillery range of Kharkiv in the coming days, the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment
US, G7 announce new sanctions against Russia ahead of Victory Day:
Following a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the United States and the Group of 7 leaders announced a new round of sanctions against Russia as allies continue to pressure Moscow into ending the war.
The new sanction announcement includes a commitment from the G7 to ban the import of Russian oil – a restriction only the United States has committed to in the past. Earlier this year, the United States banned the import of Russian oil, gas and coal.
The new oil ban marks a turning point by allies; one of Russia top exports is oil.
In addition, the United States will sanction three television stations in Russia – Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1 and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company.
A senior Biden administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters that United States’ advertising dollars, broadcast technology and equipment will no longer be available for those stations. The official said starting starting Monday, no US company can be in the business of funding or supporting those stations.
The United States will also impose new export controls and sanctions that will make it difficult for Russia to access wood products, industrial engines, boilers, motors, fans, ventilation equipment, bulldozers and many other items with industrial and commercial applications.
The White House will also prohibit individuals in the US from providing accounting, trust and corporate formation and management consulting services to any person in the Russian Federation. The White House said those services are key to Russian companies and elites building wealth.
The senior Biden administration official told reporters Sunday that the sanctions are designed to apply economic pressure on Russia in areas that the US and allies have an “asymmetric advantage” of and that Russia “can not easily get from anywhere else.”
Officials from several top banks in Russia will also be sanctioned: eight executives from Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia, 27 executives from Gazprombank, a prominent Russian bank facilitating business by Russia Gazprom, one of the largest natural gas exporters in the world, and Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries.
The US is also imposing roughly 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials. The US will issue a new visa restriction policy for Russian Federation military officials and Russia-backed or Russia-installed purported authorities who are believed to have violated international humanitarian law.
– Rebecca Morin:
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, said Sunday that her country “will do everything possible on the battlefield, but also diplomatically, to restore our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
Asked on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” about moves Russia has made to annex parts of eastern Ukraine, Markarova said she was “positive” the world would not recognize the Kremlin’s efforts to assert control th
“We will never recognize it, the whole world will never recognize it,” she said.
The interview came the day before Russian President Vladimir Putin may officially announce his country is at war with Ukraine, allowing for the conscription of more troops.
“Well, that would be the first time when Putin will say the truth, that it is war and that he is in dire need of conscripting soldiers,” the ambassador said. “I hope that then it will be evident to all Russians what they are doing in Ukraine. That it’s an aggressive war. They attacked a neighboring country, a peaceful country. And the question is, are they prepared to have more tens of thousands dying in Ukraine for no reason at all? “
– Katie Wadington:
Bono and The Edge of U2 performed Sunday in Kyiv, at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the band said on Twitter.
Zelenskyy “invited us to perform in Kyiv as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and so that’s what we’ve come to do,” Bono and The Edge tweeted.
Video clips on social media show the Irish band members: singing “With or Without You” and: performing a twist on “Stand by Me” with Taras Topola:the frontman of a popular Ukrainian band, Antibody.
– Katie Wadington:
Russia bombing school added to list of war crimes, UN ambassador says:
Hours after Russia reportedly dropped a bomb on a school in eastern Ukraine, a top United States official said the act is part of a long list of war crimes Russia has committed.
“We have called out the Russians very early on for committing war crimes and this contributes to that,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said Sunday in a Facebook post that Russia dropped an “air bomb” on a school that was sheltering about 90 people. He said that while 30 people have been rescued, they fear that 60 people are dead.
The US is going to continue to work with Ukrainian prosecutors and others to document evidence of Russian war crimes “so that they can be held accountable,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“This just adds to the long list that we already have,” she said.
– Rebecca Morin:
First lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip into Ukraine on Sunday, entering an active war zone where she met with her Ukrainian counterpart.
Biden met Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, during a visit to a public school in Uzhhorod, which is being used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.
This is the first time Zelenska has appeared in public since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.
Zelenska thanked Biden for visiting “because we understand what it takes for the US first lady to come here during a war when military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day even today.”
“We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the US president, but we would like to note that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support during such an important day,” the Ukrainian first lady said.
Biden and Zelenska met privately for an hour. The first lady spent just less than two hours in Ukraine before crossing the border back into Slovakia.
– Rebecca Morin:
Russia ‘firehose of falsehood’
In this war, Russia is invoking World War II and Nazism in an effort to smear Ukrainian leaders, including attacks on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently fanned those flames when he raised the unproven claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, accused Russia of spreading anti-Semitic tropes.
“Right now, at times, Russian propaganda even equates Nazis and Western civilization,” said Anton Shirikov, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in propaganda and misinformation.
Russia’s propaganda machine is a “firehose of falsehood” whose primary target audience is Russians themselves, said Christopher Paul, senior social scientist at the RAND Corp., a global policy think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif.
Zelenskyy hopes to evacuate wounded and military from steel plant next:
Now that evacuations have successfully removed all women, children and elderly from the Azovstol steel mill in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said another mission will attempt to rescue injured people and medics.
Zelenskyy also said in his nightly video address to the nation late Saturday that the effort to also evacuate the Ukrainian soldiers still there, the “heroes who defended Mariupol,” would be “difficult.”
Iryna Vereshchuk, a deputy prime minister for Ukraine, announced Saturday that evacuations of vulnerable citizens had taken place from the steel mill, where civilians and Ukrainian troops were the last holdout from Russian forces. More than 300 people were evacuated in recent days, Zelenskyy said, after conditions in the underground bunkers increasingly worsened and Russia ramped up its shelling.
Russia held a dress rehearsal on Saturday for the military parade to commemorate Victory Day on May 9, when the country marks the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.
In Moscow on Saturday, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile rolled through Red Square as part of the rehearsal, warplanes and helicopters flew overhead, troops marched in formation and self-propelled artillery vehicles rumbled past.
Contributing: The Associated Press: