War in Ukraine, day 144: EU wants to toughen sanctions against Moscow

On the 144th day of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict, the situation on the ground is still just as chaotic. Fighting continues in Donetsk Oblast, including 16 residential buildings hit by missiles in the city of Pokrovsk. On Monday, the ministers of the E of the European Union will discuss a hardening of the sanctions against Russia.

According to the governor of the Ukrainian Northeast region, Oleg Synegubov, Kharkiv, the country’s second city in this area, was the target of missile strikes during the night.

“Around three in the morning, in the Kyivsky district (of Kharkiv), one of the floors of a five-storey industrial building caught fire as a result of two missile strikes. A 59-year-old woman was injured and hospitalized,” he said.

Vitaliy Kim, head of the Mykolaiv region (south), near the Black Sea, denounced for his part on Sunday several strikes carried out the day before in the south of this region and on the city itself in the morning.

“Around 3:05 a.m., Mykolaiv was hit by heavy shelling. Currently, we are aware of a fire at two industrial enterprises,” he said, adding that the villages of Shevchenkove, Zoria and Novoruske were also bombed the day before. “Three people died and three were injured in Shevchenkove.”

The Donetsk region (east) has also been targeted by “the Russians (who) continue to bomb civilian infrastructure, especially educational institutions,” said regional governor Pavlo Kyrylen.

“Three missiles hit the community of Toretsk: one hit a residential area, two in Zalizne where a school and a kindergarten were damaged. In Kostiantynivka, the Russians bombed a medical faculty. No information on casualties at this time,” he added.

It is in this context that EU ministers will have to consider on Monday, among other things, a European Commission proposal to ban gold purchases from Russia to align EU sanctions with those of its G7 partners.

Another proposal aims to put new Russian personalities on the EU blacklist.

“Pay the full price”

“Moscow must continue to pay a high price for its aggression,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after transmitting the new measures to the Twenty-Seven.

According to a senior European official, during an initial discussion in Brussels on these new sanctions, no decision is expected.

The largest buyer of Russian gold is the United Kingdom with 290 tons in 2020 for an amount of 16.9 billion dollars, according to indications from Russian customs.

The cost of the war which was launched on February 24 by Russia is also felt for the rest of the world, argued the Western countries at the G20 in Bali, which however ended on Saturday without a joint press release, for lack of consensus on this point.

Russia’s participation was “absurd” and “amount to inviting an arsonist to a firefighters’ meeting,” said Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

The accusations are of the same order in Ukraine, where the national operator of nuclear energy has accused the Russian army of having installed missile launchers on the very site of the nuclear power plant in Zaporijjia (south), in an area which has been under its control since March.

“The situation is extremely tense and the tension is increasing day by day. The occupiers are bringing there (…) including missile systems with which they have already struck on the other side “of the Dnieper river” and in the territory of Nikopol”, 80 kilometers southwest of Zaporizhia, claimed Petro Kotin, president of Energoatom, on Telegram.

According to him, about 500 Russian soldiers are on the site of this Ukrainian power station, the largest in Europe.

Thousands of dead

In Donbass, separatist forces and the Russian military said they were continuing to advance and were in the process of taking full control of the town of Siversk, which came under attack after taking Lysychansk further east earlier this month.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the Minister, Sergei Shoigu, had visited the soldiers involved in the offensive in Ukraine, without specifying the date of this visit, the second after a first in June, or whether it had taken place in Ukraine or Russia.

He “gave the necessary instructions to further increase” military pressure, the ministry added.

The war in Ukraine will enter its 6th month on July 24 and there is no overall civilian death toll from the conflict so far.

The UN has counted nearly 5,000 confirmed deaths, including more than 300 children, but recognizes that their true number is undoubtedly much higher.

For the city of Mariupol (southeast), which fell in May after a terrible siege, the Ukrainian authorities evoked some 20,000 dead.

On the military level, Western security sources are now talking about 15,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers killed. kyiv has reported at least 10,000 dead in its troops. However, no independent statistics are available.

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