Ukraine's Zelensky: Tougher Russian sanctions needed quickly

Bloomberg LP is suspending its operations in Russia and Belarus over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukrainian people, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022. (photo credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukrainian people, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022.
(photo credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday urged Western nations to toughen sanctions quickly against Russia, including an oil embargo, to stop Moscow having a free hand to escalate its measures against his country.

In his nightly video address to Ukrainians, a clearly irritated Zelensky said the West had miscalculated last year in delaying sanctions and the invasion had followed.

"A full-scale war has begun. Now there are many hints and warnings that supposedly tougher sanctions, such as an embargo on Russian oil supplies to Europe, will be put in place if Russia uses chemical weapons," Zelensky said, occasionally banging his hands on a table.

"There are simply no words ... We, people who are alive, have to wait. Doesn't everything the Russia military has done to date warrant an oil embargo? Don't phosphorous bombs warrant it? A shelled chemical production facility or a shelled nuclear power plant doesn't warrant it?"

Russia's month-old invasion of Ukraine, the biggest European conflict since World War Two, has seen over 3.8 million Ukrainians flee abroad, left thousands dead or injured and isolated Russia's economy.

 A view shows an armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022. (credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters) A view shows an armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road leading to the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 28, 2022. (credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Zelensky said sanctions had to be "effective and serious" given Russia's actions to date.

"If the sanctions packages are weak or do not work strongly enough, if they can be circumvented, it creates a dangerous illusion for the Russian leadership, as if they will be permitted to continue doing what they are doing now," he said.

"Ukrainians are paying for this with their lives. Thousands of lives."

Gas embargo

The United States has already introduced an embargo on Russian oil shipments. But Europe, far more dependent on Russian energy, has been more hesitant. Germany, Europe's largest economy, has said introducing such an embargo would trigger recession and mass unemployment.

Regarding gas and energy, Russia is refusing to supply Europe with gas for free if the EU refuses to pay in rubles, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told PBS Monday, according to TASS news agency.

"We definitely do not intend to engage in charity in this regard," Peskov said, according to TASS. "No payment, no gas."

 

Bloomberg pulls out

Bloomberg LP is suspending its operations in Russia and Belarus, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.

A company spokesperson did not have further comment.

Companies ranging from SAP SAPG.DE to PayPal Holdings Inc PYPL.O have halted operations in Russia amid economic sanctions against the country for its invasion of Ukraine, which Russia has called a "special military operation."

Bloomberg customers in Russia and Belarus "will be unable to access any of Bloomberg’s financial products - including the terminal, data license, data feed and electronic trading platforms," according to Bloomberg's story.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News temporarily suspended the work of its journalists inside Russia after the country passed a new law that threatened jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading "fake news."

Luxury goods export ban

Japan will ban the export of luxury goods to Russia in its latest response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, effective April 5, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a Tuesday statement.

Prohibited items include luxury cars, motorcycles, liquors, cosmetics, fashion items and art pieces, the ministry said.