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Live blog: EU proposes eighth batch of sanctions against Russia

  • 28 Sep 2022

Ukraine calls on the West to increase military aid as authorities in four Moscow-held regions declare victory in annexation votes, with the conflict entering its 217th day.

The Group of Seven major industrialised countries - which includes EU countries Italy, France and Germany - have already agreed to put an oil price cap in place via insurers. ( Reuters )

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

EU proposes eighth batch of sanctions against Russia

The European Union executive has proposed an eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its offensive on Ukraine, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.

The proposal will now go to the bloc's 27 member countries, which will need to overcome their differences to implement the new sanctions on top of seven sets of punitive measures imposed on Russia since its forces swept into Ukraine on February 24.

That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia's military mobilisation last week, nuclear threats and steps to annex a swathe of Ukraine, after the former Soviet republic that aspires to join the EU. 

Russia probing damage to Nord Stream pipelines as 'international terrorism'

Russia's FSB security service is investigating the damage sustained by the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea as "international terrorism", the Interfax news agency cited the general prosecutor's office as saying.

Germany, Denmark and Sweden have said attacks caused gas from the two Russian-owned gas pipelines, at the centre of an energy standoff, to pour into the sea. The countries have not said who they suspect of carrying out the attacks.

US announces $1.1B in new arms aid for Ukraine

The United States announced a new package of arms and supplies for Ukraine worth $1.1 billion for reinforcing Kiev's forces over the medium and long term.

The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition, systems to counter drones, radars and armoured vehicles, according to a Defense Department statement.

The package "represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine's Armed Forces" as they continue to battle the Russian army, the Pentagon said.

Russia's Putin to communicate with heads of Ukraine's breakaway regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin will communicate with the heads of Ukraine's breakaway regions, the Kremlin spokesman said.

However Putin does not plan to address the nation on results of the referendums, said Dmitry Peskov at a press briefing in Moscow.

Russian state media announced that 98 percent of voters chose to join Russia following referendums in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. 

Zelenskiy works the phone to rally support against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought to rally international support for his country against Russia in a series of calls with foreign leaders as Moscow looked poised to annex a swath of Ukrainian territory.

Zelenskyy spoke to the leaders of countries including Britain, Canada, Germany and Türkiye to press demands for more military aid and tougher sanctions on Moscow after what Kiev and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums in four Russia-controlled provinces on Ukraine.

The United States said it was working with allies and partners to impose severe economic costs on Moscow, and the European Union's executive proposed new sanctions.

Pro-Kremlin leaders of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Kherson ask Putin to annex regions

Pro-Moscow leaders of Ukraine's Luhansk and Kherson regions have called on President Vladimir Putin to formally annex the territories into Russia, claiming residents had backed the move in a referendum.

The Kremlin-backed leader of the breakaway Luhansk region, Leonid Pasechnik, made the appeal to Putin on Wednesday, claiming residents there had been under attack for eight years by Ukraine's army.

His announcement was quickly followed by a similar appeal from Vladimir Saldo, the Moscow-backed leader of Ukraine's southern Kherson region, which was captured by Russia after the start of Moscow's military campaign on February 24.

Kremlin says ‘absurd’ to accuse Russia of Nord Stream gas leaks

The Kremlin has said it is "stupid and absurd" to conclude that Russia was behind gas leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines to Europe, deemed to be a "deliberate act" by the EU.

"It's quite predictable and also predictably stupid to give voice to these kinds of narratives — predictably stupid and absurd," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday after Ukraine said the leaks were a "terrorist attack" by Moscow.

Kremlin: Offensive to continue at least until all Donetsk region comes under control

The Kremlin has said its "special military operation" in Ukraine must continue until Russia takes full control of east Ukraine's Donetsk region.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the military campaign in Ukraine would continue "at a minimum" until the "liberation" of the "Donetsk People's Republic", referring to the region's Russian-backed administration.

New Russian recruits train in Crimea and near Ukrainian border

Moscow has said training for newly mobilised reservists has started across Russia, in places including the Rostov region on the Ukrainian border and the Crimean peninsula seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The Defence Ministry said on its Telegram channel on Wednesday that training had also begun in the Kaliningrad exclave, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

In Rostov, where Russian forces massed before attacking Ukraine on February 24, the ministry said all personnel had already been "provided with the necessary clothing, received weapons and started firing training".

One or two weeks before Nord Stream leaks can be inspected: Denmark

It could take up to two weeks before the unexplained gas leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea can be inspected, the Danish defence minister has said.

Due to the pressure inside the pipes and the amount of gas leaking "the reality is that it can easily take one or two weeks for the area to calm down enough to actually see what has happened," Defence Minister Morten Bodskov told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting with NATO's secretary general in Brussels.

"It is a very large blast that has taken place, therefore it will take time before we can get down there," the minister said.

Russian strikes cut power in much of Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Russia fired a salvo of missiles at Ukraine's second city Kharkiv overnight, officials said on Wednesday, hitting a railway yard and knocking out power to more than 18,000 households.

Kharkiv governor Oleg Synegubov said on Wednesday Russian forces had fired S-300 missiles, an anti-aircraft weapon now often re-purposed to hit civilian targets in Ukrainian cities.

No casualties were reported, but the regional energy company said 18,500 customers in the Shevchenkivsky, Kholodnogirsky and Novobavarsky districts of the city had lost electricity.

Opposition says 'political suicide' if Belarus joins fighting

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has said President Alexander Lukashenko would commit "political suicide" if he involved Belarus's military in the fighting in neighbouring Ukraine.

Tikhanovskaya claimed victory in Belarus's contested 2020 presidential election but now lives in exile in Lithuania after Lukashenko launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition.

"If he will make our army participate (in Ukraine) it will be political suicide for him," she told AFP news agency before a speech to the annual conference of Britain's main opposition Labour party, in Liverpool, northwest England. "Even those people who are for this regime (and) allies of Lukashenko, they are against the war in Ukraine."

Russian defence ministry says Ukrainian offensive on Lyman in Donetsk failed

Russia's Defence Ministry has said that a Ukrainian offensive on the Russian-held town of Lyman in Donetsk region has failed, with 70 Ukrainian soldiers killed.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield report.

Lyman, which had a population of around 20,000 before Russia ordered troops into Ukraine on Febryary 24, has been at the centre of fighting since Ukraine's lightning counteroffensive earlier this month. In recent days, both Ukrainian and Russian analysts have suggested that Kiev's forces are close to encircling the town.

Ukraine says it will 'never agree to Russian ultimatums'

Ukraine has said Russia-organised votes in four Ukrainian regions on becoming part of Russia were "null and worthless", and that Kiev will press on with efforts to free Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.

Urging its international partners to impose tough new sanctions on Moscow and provide Kiev with more military aid, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine would never agree to Russian ultimatums.

Describing the "referendums" organised by Russia as a sham, it said they had "nothing to do with expression of will" and had no implications for Ukraine’s "administrative-territorial system and internationally recognised borders."

Forcing people in these territories (where separatist votes were held) to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun is yet another Russian crime in the course of its aggression against Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry

Occupied Ukrainian regions to ask Putin to annex them

Russian-backed officials in occupied regions of Ukraine have said they will ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate them into Russian Federation, after claiming that their residents overwhelmingly supported such a move in votes that the West views as illegitimate.

Pro-Moscow officials in the eastern Luhansk region and the partially occupied southern region of Zaporizhzhia said they will make the request on Wednesday. The Russian-backed administration of the neighbouring occupied Kherson region said such a request to Putin will be made “in the coming days."

EU slams 'falsified outcome' of votes in Ukraine

The EU slammed "illegal" annexation votes Russia held in four occupied regions of Ukraine and their "falsified" results, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

"EU denounces holding of illegal 'referenda' and their falsified outcome," Borrell said on Twitter.

EU sees Nord Stream pipeline leaks as ‘deliberate act’

The EU considers leaks from two Russia-Germany undersea gas pipelines this week "are not a coincidence", with indications they were "a deliberate act", the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

Expressing "deep concern" over the Nord Stream 1 and 2 leaks and calling for an investigation, Borrell said in a statement that "all available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act".

Canada to impose new sanctions on Russia over ‘sham’ referendums in Ukraine

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he intends to impose new sanctions over Russia's "sham" referendums in occupied regions of Ukraine.

"Canada does not and will not ever recognise the results of these sham referendums or Russia's attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories," Trudeau said in a statement. 

Ukraine conflict hammers growth in ex-Soviet bloc: EBRD bank

Rocketing inflation and dwindling gas supplies fuelled by Russia's attack against Ukraine will hammer growth in the ex-Soviet bloc next year, Europe's development bank forecasts.

The bank's investment zone is set for growth of three percent next year. But the EBRD had previously forecast a stronger expansion of 4.7 percent for its region that includes nations ranging from Albania to Poland and Morocco.

The bank remains mindful that many EBRD nations are "highly" dependent on gas for their energy needs.

Negative factors related to high energy prices, the Ukraine war, inflation and the anticipated slowdown in western Europe, make the prospects for next year bleaker.

Beata Javorcik, EBRD chief economist

Italy’s Meloni tells Ukraine it can count on her

Nationalist leader Giorgia Meloni, set to become Italy's next prime minister, has pledged her full support for Kiev after receiving congratulations from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for her election victory.

In a tweet late on Tuesday, a day after Meloni and her right-wing allies won a commanding parliamentary majority, Zelenskyy said he was looking forward to "fruitful cooperation with the new government".

Meloni replied swiftly. "Dear Zelenskyy, you know that you can count on our loyal support for the cause of freedom of Ukrainian people."

US readies $1.1B new arms package for Ukraine

The United States is preparing a new $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine's battle with Russia that will be announced in coming days, US officials have said on condition of anonymity. 

The package will include HIMARS launcher systems, accompanying munitions, various types of counter-drone systems and radar systems, along with spares, training and technical support, a source briefed on the plan said.

It is expected to use funds from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative appropriated by Congress to allow the Biden administration to procure weapons from industry rather than from existing US weapons stocks.

For live updates from Tuesday (September 27), click here

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