EU official slams Russia’s ‘massive war crime’ in Mariupol

The EU’s foreign policy chief on Monday called Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol a “massive war crime”, as a series of member states called for sanctions on the energy sector key to Moscow.

“What is happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombing and killing everyone,” Josep Borrell said at the start of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock echoed strong condemnation of Russian bombings against civilians in Ukraine.

“The courts will have to decide, but for me these are clearly and unequivocally war crimes,” she said.

“This makes it all the more clear that we as the European Union, we as a global community who believe in a rules-based international order, must clearly isolate this regime.”

Borrell said ministers would discuss further support for Ukraine and whether to add new sanctions targeting Russia’s oil and gas sectors to the barrage of economic sanctions already imposed.

A group of EU countries are pushing for the bloc to ban Russian energy exports. But there is reluctance on the part of the German economic power, which remains dependent on Russian gas.

“I think it is inevitable to start talking about the energy sector, and we can certainly talk about oil because it is the biggest income in the Russian budget and it is also quite easily replaceable,” the minister said. Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that “given the scale of the destruction in Ukraine at the moment, it is very difficult, in my view, to argue that we should not enter the sector of (Russian) energy, especially oil and coal.”

Senior Danish diplomat Jeppe Kofod has backed a move to prevent Russian ships from docking at EU ports and blocking land transport after Poland called for a trade embargo.

Germany’s Baerbock did not support calls for an immediate halt to Russian energy exports, but insisted that Berlin would “gradually and at full speed” withdraw from dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

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