Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov storms out of talks with other G20 foreign ministers in Indonesia as Western powers criticise Moscow over its offensive against Ukraine, where fighting has entered the 135th day.

Since abandoning an assault on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbass heartland that comprises Luhansk and Donetsk.
Since abandoning an assault on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbass heartland that comprises Luhansk and Donetsk. (AFP)

Friday, July 8, 2022

Putin warns West: Sanctions risk energy price spike catastrophe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the West that continued sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine risk triggering catastrophic energy price rises for consumers around the world. He said Western calls to reduce reliance on Russian energy made global markets "feverish" with spikes in oil and gas. 

European Union customers have said they want to wean themselves off Russian gas while Group of Seven leaders said last month that they wanted to explore "price caps" on Russian fossil fuel, including oil.

"Sanctions restrictions on Russia cause much more damage to those countries that impose them," Putin told the leaders of Russia's oil and gas industry, including Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Further use of sanctions may lead to even more severe — without exaggeration, even catastrophic — consequences on the global energy market

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ukraine seizes $71M of assets owned by Russian state companies

Ukraine has seized assets worth over 2.1 billion hryvnias ($71 million) owned by Russian state oil company Rosneft, gas firm Gazprom and nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, Ukraine's state security service (SBU) has said.

The SBU said in a statement that Russia had used some of the profits from those assets to prepare its offensive against Ukraine and fund sabotage and intelligence activities.

Rosneft and Gazprom did not immediately reply to Reuters requests for comment. Rosatom declined to comment. The Kremlin did not immediately comment on SBU's statement.

New round of Canada sanctions target Russia church leader

Canada has unveiled more sanctions against Russia over its offensive against Ukraine, targeting the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and others it says are spreading disinformation.

The move was quickly denounced by Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who said "sanctions against the Patriarch could only be introduced by Satanists". The patriarch is a fervent supporter of President Vladimir Putin.

The new Canadian package targets 29 individuals accused of being "state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda agents" and 15 Russian government-controlled entities "involved in disinformation efforts", according to a statement.

US announces more HIMARS precision rocket systems for Ukraine

The United States has announced that it will send Ukraine more HIMARS rocket systems and new precision artillery shells, boosting its ability to target Russian arms depots and supply chains.

A new $400 million arms package will include four HIMARS launchers with ammunition, a system that has helped Ukraine's forces attack targets like ammunition dumps with guided missiles from a greater distance, out of range of Russian artillery, according to a senior defence official.

With the HIMARS system, "Ukraine has now been successfully striking Russian locations within Ukraine, deeper behind the frontlines, and disrupting Russia's ability to conduct artillery operation," the official said. The package will also include 1,000 rounds of a new kind of 155mm ammunition for artillery supplied by Ukraine's Western allies.

Russia warns Lithuania it could take 'harsh' measures over Kaliningrad transit

Russia has warned Lithuania and the European Union that it could adopt "harsh measures" against them if the transit of some goods to and from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad did not resume.

"If the situation does not stabilise in the coming days, then Russia will take harsh measures against Lithuania and the European Union," Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of the Russian foreign ministry, said in a statement. "The issue has taken too long to resolve."

Lithuania has banned the transit of goods subject to European Union sanctions across its territory to and from the Baltic exclave. Russia has pledged to retaliate.

Russian forces unlikely to leave southern Ukraine: Ambassador

Russia will defeat Ukrainian forces in the whole of the eastern Donbass region and is unlikely to withdraw from a vast swathe of land across Ukraine's southern coast, Russia's ambassador to London has said.

Since the February 24 offensive began, Russian forces have taken control of a big chunk of territory across Ukraine's southern flank above Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and is slowly pushing Ukrainian forces out of two Russian-backed rebel regions of east Ukraine that it has recognised as independent states.

When asked how the conflict might end, Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin said Ukraine forces would be pushed back from all of Donbass and that it was difficult to see Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces withdrawing from the south of Ukraine.

Russian gas flows via Ukraine hit ‘historic low’

Kiev has said that Russian gas flows through Ukraine were at a "historic low" last month and accused Moscow of fomenting political instability in Europe by squeezing supplies.

Russia has already cut flows to Europe via the Baltic Sea Nord Stream pipeline by 60 percent in recent weeks, citing technical issues.

Moscow's critics in Europe have dismissed the explanation and said Russia is trying to put pressure on the West over its backing for Ukraine against Russia.

Russia jails city councillor for 7 years over Ukraine criticism

A Moscow court has sentenced a city councillor to seven years in prison for denouncing Russia's military offensive in Ukraine.

Alexei Gorinov, 60, is the first elected member of the opposition to be sentenced to jail for criticising Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine.

He was found guilty of spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian army. Standing in the glass defendant's box, the grey-haired Gorinov in a checked shirt held a piece of paper that read "Do you still need this war?"

Putin orders talks on unified regional air defence with Kyrgyzstan

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the defence and foreign ministries to begin talks with Kyrgyzstan on a common regional air defence system, according to the text of the order posted on a government website.

The countries do not have a common border. 

Russian envoy: UK has made little effort to free men sentenced to death in eastern Ukraine

Russia's ambassador to Britain has said he was surprised London has not made more of an effort to secure the release of two British citizens sentenced to death for fighting in eastern Ukraine.

While fighting with the Ukrainian army, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were captured by Russian-backed separatist forces in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).

After a hasty court hearing, a separatist court sentenced the pair to death, saying they were mercenaries and were trying to violently seize power.

Ukrainian official warns of 'catastrophe' in captured city

A Ukrainian regional official has warned of deteriorating living conditions in a city captured by Russian forces two weeks ago, saying Sievierodonetsk is without water, power or a working sewage system while the bodies of the dead decompose in hot apartment buildings.

Governor Sergiy Gaiday said the Russians were unleashing indiscriminate artillery barrages as they try to secure their gains in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk province. Moscow has claimed full control of Luhansk, but the governor and other Ukrainian officials said their troops retained a small part of the province.

US tells Russia at G20 talks 'let the grain out' of Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has demanded Russia allow grain shipments out of war-battered Ukraine during closed-door G20 talks in Indonesia, a Western official said. 

"To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out," said Blinken, according to a Western official present.

Blinken has refused to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov but addressed Russia during the talks and laid out US financial assistance to ease global food shortages triggered by the Ukraine conflict, a major source of global grain and corn exports. 

Russia's Lavrov absent as Ukraine FM addresses G20 talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was absent as his Ukrainian counterpart addressed G20 talks in Indonesia virtually, two diplomatic sources told AFP news agency.

Moscow's top diplomat attended the morning sessions of the talks in Bali where the focus has been on Russia's offensive on its neighbour but he was not present as Dmytro Kuleba spoke in the afternoon to the gathering of foreign ministers, the sources said. 

US asks Russia to recognise fighters held in Ukraine as combatants

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said the United States had asked that US fighters detained in Ukraine be recognised as combatants, the Interfax news agency reported. 

Russia says sanctions over Ukraine a declaration of economic war by the West

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said attempts to isolate Moscow with sanctions were akin to a declaration of economic war by the West, dismissing what he said was "frenzied" criticism of the conflict in Ukraine.

Speaking at a G20 gathering in Indonesia, Lavrov said Russia would now turn to China and India and other nations outside the West.

He scolded Russia's rivals for scuppering a chance to tackle global economic issues by focusing on Ukraine. 

UK says Russia concentrating for attack on Ukraine's city of Siversk

Russia is likely concentrating equipment on front line in the direction of Siversk, about 8 km west of the current Russian front line, Britain's defence ministry said.

Russian forces are likely pausing to replenish before undertaking new offensive operations in the Donetsk Oblast, the Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update. 

The ministry said that there is a realistic possibility that Russia's immediate tactical objective will be Siversk, as its forces attempt to advance towards its most likely operational goal of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk urban area. 

Indonesia urges end to Ukraine conflict at G20 meeting

Indonesia has called for an end to the conflict in Ukraine as it led a Group of 20 meetings attended by Russia's foreign minister.

"It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not the battlefield," Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the opening of the meeting in Bali.

Retno said multilateralism was the only way to address global challenges and hoped the forum would provide an avenue to address the repercussions of the crisis, which are rippling across the globe.

Zelenskyy: Ukrainians will fight for lost territories 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged to fight for every Ukrainian territory against the Russians in an interview with US broadcaster CNN after some US officials said it's unlikely Ukraine will be able to regain all the lost lands.

"Ukrainians are not ready to give up their land. We are going to fight for every inch of our territory," Zelenskyy told CNN. 

Zelenskyy said he is not willing to give up any land to Russia to make a peace deal and end the ongoing conflict.

G20 ministers to meet in Bali with Ukraine top of agenda

The Group of 20 will meet in Bali with the United States pushing the world's top economies to pressure Russia over its assault on Ukraine, as Washington and Moscow's top diplomats prepare for their first showdown since the offensive began.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also seek to reopen dialogue with Beijing in talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the first in months after tensions strained over issues including Taiwan.

But Blinken will shun a direct meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, instead pointing the finger at Moscow for triggering global food and energy crises and calling on G20 members to back a UN initiative to re-open sea lanes blocked by the offensive.

"You'll see that we will have an ability as necessary to make clear Russia's responsibility for some of the very problems that the G20 is going to be tackling," a senior US official said.

For live updates from Thursday (July 7), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies