EU to propose new sweeping sanctions against Russia worth billions of euros - source

The proposal comes after alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops were discovered in the Ukrainian towns around Kyiv that they had occupied.

 EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula Von Der Leyen and others applaud after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech at the European Parliament earlier this month. Like Esther, ‘he appealed... for his people’ to the EU. (photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)
EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula Von Der Leyen and others applaud after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech at the European Parliament earlier this month. Like Esther, ‘he appealed... for his people’ to the EU.
(photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

New sanctions as soon as Wednesday

The European Commission is set to propose on Tuesday to EU nations new sweeping sanctions against Russia, which include a ban on imports of coal, rubber, chemicals and other products from Russia worth up to 9 billion euros a year, an EU source told Reuters.

The EU is also proposing to ban exports to Russia worth another 10 billion euros a year, including semiconductors, computers, technology for LNG gas and other electrical and transport equipment, the source said.

The new round of sanctions was proposed after reports of killings of civilians in northern Ukraine by Russian forces. They may go into effect as soon as Wednesday, France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told RFI radio.

Kyiv mayor says payments to Russia are 'bloody money'

The mayor of Kyiv asked European politicians to cut off all commercial ties with Moscow, saying all payments it gave to Russia were "bloody money" and fueling its army.

"Every Euro, every cent that you receive from Russia or that you send to Russia has blood, it is bloody money and the blood of this money is Ukrainian blood, the blood of Ukrainian people," Vitali Klitschko said via video link to a mayors' conference in Geneva.

In the same speech, he described the "genocide of Ukrainians" following a visit to Kyiv's satellite towns like Bucha this week. He described seeing dead civilians, including an old woman, and a car with a white flag and the letters "children" on the outside that was shot up and had blood inside.

 RUSSIA’S AMBASSADOR to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, attends a meeting of the Security Council on Sunday, at which a vote was taken to hold an emergency special session of the General Assembly to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: REUTERS/DAVID 'DEE' DELGADO) RUSSIA’S AMBASSADOR to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, attends a meeting of the Security Council on Sunday, at which a vote was taken to hold an emergency special session of the General Assembly to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: REUTERS/DAVID 'DEE' DELGADO)

Russia denied any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in Bucha. Its envoy to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said Russia will present "empirical evidence" to the United Nations Security Council showing its forces were not involved in atrocities.

Russia's top lawmaker repeated the claim on Tuesday. 

"The situation in Bucha is a provocation aimed at discrediting Russia," Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, said.

"Washington and Brussels are the screenwriters and directors and Kyiv are the actors," Volodin said. "There are no facts — just lies."

Since Russian troops withdrew from towns and villages around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv last week, Ukrainian troops have been showing journalists corpses of what they say are civilians killed by Russian forces, destroyed houses and burnt-out cars.

Airbnb pulls out

Home rental company Airbnb Inc said late on Monday it had suspended operations in Russia and Belarus.

"Guests globally will no longer be able to make new reservations for stays or experiences in Russia or Belarus," the company said in a statement.

"Guests located in Russia or Belarus will not be able to make new reservations on Airbnb."

It said reservations starting on or after April 4 had been canceled.

Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky announced the planned suspension on Twitter on March 4. Read full story

The company had previously flagged its inability to process transactions affiliated with certain financial institutions in Russia and Belarus due to Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Russian diplomats expelled

Denmark has decided to expel 15 Russian diplomats following the reports from Bucha, the Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Tuesday.

Russia said it would retaliate, RIA news agency cited Russia's foreign ministry as saying.

Italy also expelled 30 Russian diplomats because of security concerns, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday, according to comments sent by a spokesman. Russia's foreign ministry again said it would retaliate.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde also said on Tuesday that Sweden will expel three Russian diplomats who were not acting in accordance with international rules.

"It is because they are not following the Vienna Convention and they are undertaking illegal intelligence-gathering operations," Linde told reporters.

France, Belgium and the Netherlands have recently expelled Russian diplomats over alleged spying activity.

A number of other Western governments took similar steps.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday she had agreed with her Japanese counterpart Hayashi Yoshimasa that more sanctions against Russia are needed.

"We agreed that the international community must increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war machine with further coordinated sanctions," Truss said on Twitter.