By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Russia has continued blockades of ports in the Black Sea, halting the exports of grain, one of Ukraine|s most essential commodities.
According to military observers, elsewhere, clashes continue as Russia is trying to encircle Ukraine’s eastern towns of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Rubizhne in the Donbas region.
After being frustrated militarily in Ukraine, Russia aims to capture the entire eastern region, the nation’s industrial heartland.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned his nation of difficult weeks of war ahead.
And speaking online to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he urged the world to step up sanctions against Russia. “This is what the sanctions should be. They should be maximum. So that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences for their actions,” he said.
“And I believe there are still no such sanctions against Russia. But there should be a Russian oil embargo. All the Russian banks should be blocked, with no exceptions. There should be an abandonment of the Russian [Internet Technology] IT sector. There should not be any trade with Russia.”
Countries such as Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian energy, so far opposed a European Union-wide oil embargo against Russia.
But Zelensky argued that the sanctions could set a precedent for sanctions on other leaders with war plans as this, in his words, would contribute “to the peace.”
He spoke after Ukraine sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison in its first war crimes trial.
A court in Kyiv gave the verdict after the young sergeant from a Russian tank unit, Vadim Shishimarin, pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region.
Yet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Kyiv remains ready to exchange prisoners with Russia, though it was unclear whether the sergeant could be part of the discussions.
As the war continues, so does the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, even from within his own circle.
Diplomat Boris Bondarev, who is 41, said he gave up his two decades of diplomatic service, including at the United Nations, to protest against Moscow’s “aggressive war” in Ukraine, despite concerns about his safety.
Bondarev said he had “never been so ashamed” of Russia and what he called the “aggressive war” waged by Russian President Putin’s military.
There was only one choice, he said. “I, as a Russian diplomat, can no longer be associated with this,” Bondarev stressed. “Ukraine is a pivotal moment because then there is no choice after that. There is only one choice: to leave, to quit,” he stressed.
Tens of thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, are believed to have died in Europe’s most extensive battle since World War Two.
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