By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
MOSCOW/KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The increasingly isolated Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will “halt natural gas supplies to unfriendly countries” if they don’t deal in the Russian currency from Friday.
His comments prompted an angry reaction from Germany, which supports sanctions against Russia over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Berlin said it would study the details of the demand but that there can be “no political blackmail” over gas imports.
President Putin’s comments came as Britain said Putin “is not the force he used to be” and is “now a man in a cage he built himself.”
Thousands of Russian troops have been killed, and they have lost ground around, for instance, the capital Kyiv. Yet there are signs Russia focuses its attention on eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists control the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Relentless Russian shelling has also been reported around, for instance, the southeastern port city of Mariupol, where the mayor says 160,000 residents remain trapped. Thousands of people, including children, have been killed in the devastated city.
Ukraine’s government said it is sending dozens of buses to Mariupol in a fresh effort to evacuate people and deliver humanitarian aid on Friday. It was unclear, however, whether Russian forces would allow the aid convoy to pass through.
It comes amid signs of some internal dissent, with Ukrainian President Zelensky saying he sacked two generals as they were “traitors.”
With the war ongoing and natural gas and oil supplies at risk, U.S. President Joe Biden has announced the release of an unprecedented 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic stockpiles
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