Ukraine seeks ‘ruinous’ sanctions on Russia as Europe frets about energy

Ukraine seeks ‘ruinous’ sanctions on Russia as Europe frets about energy
Ukrainian soldiers inspect a destroyed house in Bucha, Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 6, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 April 2022

Ukraine seeks ‘ruinous’ sanctions on Russia as Europe frets about energy

Ukraine seeks ‘ruinous’ sanctions on Russia as Europe frets about energy
  • Washington announced new measures including sanctions on Putin’s two adult daughters and major bank
  • European Union failed to approve a new round of sanctions including on Russian coal on Wednesday

LVIV: Ukraine wants sanctions crippling enough to force Russia to end its war after accusing some countries of putting economic wellbeing above punishment for civilian killings that the West condemns as war crimes.
The democratic world must stop buying Russian oil and completely block Russian banks from the international finance system, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily video address early on Thursday.
“Some politicians are still unable to decide how to limit the flow of petrodollars and oil euros to Russia so as not to put their own economies at risk,” Zelensky said.
Washington announced new measures including sanctions on President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters and a major bank. However, the European Union failed to approve a new round of sanctions including on Russian coal on Wednesday. Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said the package could be passed on Thursday or Friday.
Speaking at a NATO meeting, Borrell also said the EU will discuss an embargo on Russian oil, which he said he hoped would come soon.
After grisly images of dead civilians in the streets of Bucha, a town northeast of Kyiv recaptured from Russian invaders, sparked international condemnation, Zelensky said Kremlin forces were trying to cover up evidence of atrocities.
“We have information that the Russian military has changed its tactics and is trying to remove people who have been killed from streets and basements ... this is just an attempt to hide the evidence and nothing more,” Zelensky said, but did not provide evidence.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks.
Russia’s six-week-long invasion has forced over 4 million to flee abroad, killed or injured thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless, turned cities into rubble and set off Western restrictions targeting Russian elites and the economy.
Washington’s new steps on Wednesday included sanctions top state-run lender Sberbank and Alfa Bank, Russia’s fourth-largest financial institution.
It also banned Americans from investing in Russia and called for Russia to be expelled from the Group of 20 major economies forum, saying it will boycott G20 meetings where Russian officials will show up.
An EU source said the European coal ban would be approved on Thursday but would not take effect until August, a month later than previously proposed after pressure from Germany, EU’s top importer of Russian coal.
Britain also froze Sberbank’s assets, and said it would ban imports of Russian coal, but not until the end of the year.
The United Nations General Assembly will vote on Thursday on suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.

Call for more action 
But Ukraine says its allies must go further to stop Moscow’s war machine by ending all energy imports from Russia and blocking supplies of technology and materials used for weapons production.
“Sanctions against Russia must be ruinous enough for us to end this terrible war,” the head of Ukraine’s presidential office Andriy Yermak said late on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s foreign minister called NATO allies to send more planes, air defense systems, missiles and military vehicles.
“I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives, and the war is contained in Ukraine,” Dmytro Kuleba told reporters at the NATO meeting.
Breaking ranks with the rest of the EU, Hungary said it was prepared to meet a Russian demand to pay roubles for its gas, in what Ukraine described as an “unfriendly act.”
The rift highlights the continent’s reliance on Russian gas and oil that has held it back from a tougher response on the Kremlin as Russia accounts for some 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas consumption and a third of its oil imports.

Besieged city 
Western policymakers have denounced the killings in Bucha as war crimes, and Ukrainian officials say a mass grave by a church there contained between 150 and 300 bodies.
Russia says it is engaged in a “special military operation” designed to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine, which Kiyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for its invasion.
Russia continues to prepare for an attack to gain full control over the eastern breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the besieged southern port of Mariupol, where tens of thousands are trapped, according to the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Many in the eastern town of Derhachi, just north of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv and near the border with Russia, have decided to leave while they can.
Buildings have been badly damaged by Russian artillery. Kharkiv itself has been hammered by air and rocket strikes from the start.
Mykola, a father of two in Derhachi who declined to give his surname, said he could hear the thud of bombardments every night, and had been hunkering down with his family in the corridor of their home.
“(We’ll go) wherever there are no explosions, where the children won’t have to hear them,” he said, hugging his young son and struggling to hold back the tears.
The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said 167 children have so far been killed in the war, with 297 wounded.


North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
Updated 10 sec ago

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
  • Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test
  • North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday
SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as South Korea and the United States staged joint naval exercises involving an aircraft carrier.
Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces launched their military exercise in the waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday after a visit to Japan.
North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.
North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the Security Council has steadily — and unanimously — stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities
Updated 58 min 21 sec ago

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

BEIJING: A fire at a restaurant in northeastern China on Wednesday killed 17 people and injured three, according to local authorities.
The blaze broke out at 12:40 pm in an eatery in the city of Changchun, the local government said in a statement posted on the Weibo social media platform.


Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
Updated 28 September 2022

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
  • Japan PM Kishida Fumio asked Morocco to cooperate with Japan in the future

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said that Morocco’s decision to not participate in the 8th TICAD Summit was “regrettable” during a meeting on Wednesday with the Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Kishida stated that he would like to obtain the cooperation of Akhannouch in order to promote the entry of Japanese companies into Morocco and also asked the Moroccan side to cooperate with Japan in the future, including on TICAD events.

In addition, Kishida said that Morocco’s ammonium phosphate is important for the stable supply of fertilizers and that he looked forward to Morocco’s constructive response on the matter.

The two leaders also exchanged views on international issues and resolved to continue working closely together in dealing with the food security risks.

Akhannouch expressed his heartfelt condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and stated that he would like to further strengthen the cooperative relationship that the two countries have built over many years in a wide range of fields.

Kishida expressed his gratitude to Akhannouch for attending Abe’s state funeral and said that the two countries have enjoyed good relations for many years based on the friendship between the imperial and royal families.


Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
Updated 28 September 2022

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
  • Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday reiterated his support for a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem during a “candid exchange of views” with former Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process and said he would like to continue contributing to the improvement of the environment for the progress of peace in the Middle East.

Japan’s PM also expressed his support for Palestine’s economic self-reliance through food assistance of more than $8 million – which was provided in response to the deterioration of food security in Palestine as a result of the situation in Ukraine – and the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative promoted by Japan. Hamdallah expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support. 

Hamdallah conveyed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kishida expressed his gratitude for the condolences sent by Palestinian officials.

Both sides agreed to continue to develop the relationship between Japan and Palestine.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan.


India bans Islamist group, citing ‘terror links’

India bans Islamist group, citing ‘terror links’
Updated 28 September 2022

India bans Islamist group, citing ‘terror links’

India bans Islamist group, citing ‘terror links’
  • The Popular Front of India denies involvement in extremist activity
  • Police have arrested more than 300 PFI cadres in raids across the country since Friday

NEW DELHI: India banned an Islamist group and its affiliates for five years on Wednesday over alleged terrorism links, after a nationwide crackdown that saw hundreds of the organization’s members arrested.
A government notice said the Popular Front of India (PFI) had been outlawed for its ties to extremist organizations, including the Daesh group, and for violent attacks attributed to its members.
The PFI denies involvement in extremist activity and says it is the subject of a “witch hunt” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
Police have arrested more than 300 PFI cadres in raids across the country since Friday.
A home affairs ministry statement announcing the ban outlined a laundry list of charges accusing the group of violent and subversive activities.
Members had engaged in “cold-blooded killings of persons associated with organizations espousing other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places and destruction of public property,” Wednesday’s notice said.
The ministry said PFI members had been responsible for at least 10 murders in southern India since 2016 and accused the group of “pursuing a secret agenda” to radicalize society and undermine democracy.
Hard-line Hindu groups have long campaigned for a ban on PFI, which is estimated to have tens of thousands of members around India.
Calls to outlaw the organization have grown in recent months after several Muslim-led protests against the government.
The group was accused of organizing street rallies against a state ban on the wearing of hijabs by Muslim school students in Karnataka, which resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and Hindu activists.
Modi’s government has been accused of clamping down on dissent and promoting discriminatory policies toward the country’s 200-million-strong Muslim minority since coming to power in 2014.
Actions against the PFI were “a conscious attempt by the Modi government to spread Islamophobia among the public and demonize Muslims as a community,” CPIML Liberation, a communist political party in India, wrote on Twitter.
But the PFI has been implicated in violent attacks before, with 13 members jailed in 2015 for hacking off the hand of a university lecturer accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Wednesday’s ministry notice said some PFI activists had joined Islamic State and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
It also linked the PFI to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an extremist group that carried out several bombing attacks in India’s eastern neighbor in 2005 that left at least 28 dead.