By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Frustrated over the escalating Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Union’s leadership announced a new plan to penalize Russia financially. It wants a total ban on oil imports from Russia by the end of the year, but several EU member states objected.
Hungary’s government made clear Hungary would veto the plan in its current form, saying it “would destroy the Hungarian economy” as the country is heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has close ties with the Kremlin, was in part re-elected on a promise to keep energy prices low for households. Brussels offered Hungary and Slovakia the ability to join the embargo by the end of 2023, but Budapest said even that wouldn’t give it enough time to find alternative resources.
The political wrangling came as on the ground explosions rocked various cities across Ukraine, including the devastated city of Mariupol. British and U.S. sources say Russia is trying to stop Ukraine from replenishing its supplies and receiving weapons from the western NATO military alliance. “We thought the war would be over in weeks, but now I believe it could take much longer,” a senior U.S. security source told Worthy News.
There were suggestions by Western officials that Russia would use its annual Victory Day celebrations to mark victory against Nazi Germany in 1945 – to declare war on Ukraine formally. Russia has denied this and called its actions in Ukraine “a special military operation.”
It came while clashes around the Azovstal steel plant in the bombed-out city of Mariupol escalated. Russian forces attacked and even entered the plant, though as many as thousands of fighters and civilians remained inside the underground tunnels, Ukrainian authorities said.
Moscow claimed it would open a humanitarian corridor out of the plant Thursday, but there was concern that many people would not make it out alive.
Also, in Mariupol, reporters’ estimates suggested twice as many people as previously thought died in a Russian strike on a theatre in the city in March. Previous estimates put the death toll at 300, but the Associated Press news agency now puts that at 600.
Another 344 evacuees from various south-western cities, including Mariupol, however, arrived in Zaporizhzhia, said Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Irina Vereshchuk.
She thanked the United Nations and Red Cross for their help, saying: “These are women, children, and elderly people from Mariupol, Manhush, Berdiansk, Tokmak, and Vasylivka. All of them have just arrived in Zaporozhzhia”.
The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said many came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. “We will now support them during this difficult time, including much-needed psychological support,” she said.
Lubrani expressed concern that more must be done “to make sure all civilians caught up in fighting can leave, in the direction they wish.”
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