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Zelenskyy calls for an embargo on Russian oil, saying it pays for the Kremlin’s ‘sense of impunity’


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine

By Alan Yuhas


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Saturday night called again for sanctions targeting Russian oil and gas, saying the wealth provided by that business was paying for the Kremlin’s war efforts and sustaining its “sense of impunity.”


In his nightly address, Zelenskyy pushed for “more painful restrictions” on Russia’s cash flows, saying an oil embargo “should be the first step.”


Although the European Union, the United States and other nations have imposed severe sanctions on the Russian government, banks and wealthy people, European nations reliant on Russian energy have resisted cutting themselves off from those imports.


Zelenskyy’s remarks capped a day of diplomacy that included a visit from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Ukrainian president renewed the argument over Russia’s gas industry Saturday night.


“Russia can still afford to live in illusions and bring new military forces and new equipment to our land,” Zelenskyy said. “Oil is one of the two sources of Russian self-confidence, their sense of impunity.”


European leaders approved a ban this week on Russian coal, the imported energy source that would be the easiest to replace. Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is among the states in the bloc most reliant on Russian energy overall, with gas heating 1 out of 2 German homes and powering much of Germany’s export industry.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met this past week with Johnson, who urged his counterpart to shift away from Russian oil. “We are doing all we can, and we are doing a lot,” Scholz said Friday, warning that installing the infrastructure to import gas from other countries would require massive investments.


Johnson met with Zelenskyy in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Zelenskyy said they had discussed new sanctions against Russia, although he did not describe them.


He framed support for Ukraine as a defense of Europe at large.


“Russian aggression was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone, to the destruction of our freedom and our lives alone,” Zelenskyy said. “The whole European project is a target for Russia.”

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