Russia warns against oil import ban as little progress in talks with Ukraine


  • Oil prices soar as US mulls import ban from Russia
  • Ukraine says Russian airstrike kills 13 at factory
  • Ukraine calls for direct Zelenskiy-Putin talks

LVIV/IRPIN, Ukraine, March 7 (Reuters) – A Western ban on Russian oil imports could more than double the price to $300 a barrel and shut down the main gas pipeline to Germany, Moscow warned on Monday, as talks on Ukraine barely advanced amid efforts to agree on safe passage for civilians.

The invasion of Russia, the biggest attack on a European state since World War II, has created 1.7 million refugees, a series of sanctions against Moscow and fears of a wider conflict in the West that have been irremediable for decades. decades.

Sieges and shelling continued as Kiev rejected possible humanitarian corridors to Russia and Belarus, but said limited progress had been made on agreeing logistics for the evacuation of civilians.

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Moscow would give residents of the Ukrainian cities of Sumy and Mariupol the choice of moving elsewhere in Ukraine on Tuesday, setting an early-hours deadline for Kiev to agree, Russian news agencies reported. Read more

Seeking to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States said Washington and its European allies were considering banning imports of Russian oil. Oil prices hit their highest levels since 2008.

“A rejection of Russian oil would have catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said, saying the price could more than double to over $300 a barrel. Read more

US President Joe Biden held a video conference with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain as he lobbied for their support for the ban.

But if need be, the United States is ready to move forward without allies in Europe, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Many countries on the continent are heavily dependent on Russian energy. Read more

Germany last month froze the certification of Nord Stream 2 which was due to the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

“We have every right to take a corresponding decision and impose an embargo on the pumping of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline,” Novak said.

The Russian economy, banking system and currency have come under intense pressure as punishment for the assault on Ukraine. The country will be excluded from all JPMorgan bond indices, the bank announced on Monday in the latest such development.

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SPEAK ‘NOT EASY’

More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have fled to central Europe since the conflict began on February 24, the UN refugee agency said on Monday. Read more

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists.

After third attempt to ease bloodshed at talks in Belarus, Ukrainian negotiator says while small progress was made on agreed logistics for civilian evacuation, things remained largely unchanged .

“So far, there are no results that significantly improve the situation,” said Mykhailo Podolyak.

Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told reporters the talks were “not easy”.

“We hope that from tomorrow these corridors will finally work,” he said.

Russia has proposed two corridors inside Ukraine, according to Interfax.

Evacuation routes to Russia and Belarus, its close ally, had previously been called “completely immoral” by a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

A fourth round of talks is scheduled for soon, Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television.

“Our president is not afraid of anything, including a direct meeting with Putin,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday evening.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that Moscow would halt operations if Ukraine stopped fighting, changed its constitution to declare neutrality and recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the independence of the regions held by Russian-backed separatists.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Putin several times last month as the invasion approached, said he saw no troublesome breakthrough.

“I don’t think in the days and weeks ahead there will be a real negotiated solution,” he said.

EVACUATION FAILURES

Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said Russian forces were “beginning to build up resources for the storming of Kyiv”, a city of more than 3 million people, after days of sluggishness in their main advance to southern Belarus.

Outside the capital, the attacks continued.

A Russian strike on a bread factory left 13 people dead in the town of Makariv, Kyiv region, Ukrainian officials said. Reuters could not verify the details. Russia denies targeting civilians.

In the beleaguered southern port city of Mariupol, hundreds of thousands of people remained trapped without food or water under regular shelling.

Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN authorities were ready to evacuate 6,000 people on Saturday but the Russians bombed buses that were supposed to carry them. Moscow has accused the Ukrainians of blocking planned evacuations.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, police said the total death toll from the Russian shelling stood at 143 since the start of the invasion. It was not possible to verify the toll.

In Irpin, people were making their way over the twisted ruins of a large bridge.

“It’s like a disaster,” a young woman leaving with her children told Reuters.

Ukraine said on Monday its forces had regained control of the town of Chuhuiv in the northeast after heavy fighting and the strategic airport of Mykolaiv in the south. Neither could be immediately verified.

In a humanitarian update, the United Nations described a psychiatric hospital 60 km (40 miles) from Kiev running out of water and medicine with 670 people trapped inside, including bedridden patients with serious needs .

On Monday, US congressional negotiators were close to reaching agreement on a bill to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars in emergency aid. Read more

A senior US defense official said Putin has now deployed nearly 100% of the more than 150,000 forces he had pre-organized outside the country before the invasion to Ukraine.

Moscow has acknowledged nearly 500 dead among its soldiers, but Western countries say the real number is much higher and Ukraine says it is in the thousands.

The death toll cannot be verified, but footage filmed across Ukraine shows burnt-out wreckage of Russian tanks and armor, and parts of Ukrainian towns reduced to rubble by Russian strikes.

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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Philippa Fletcher and Costas Pitas, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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