Ukraine sinks Russian patrol boats near Snake Island

EU to propose phasing out Russian oil in new sanctions wave

By: AFP
Published: 11:59 AM, 2 May, 2022
Ukraine sinks Russian patrol boats near Snake Island
Caption: File photo.
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Kyiv said Monday that its drones sank two Russian patrol boats near the Black Sea's Snake Island where Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed Moscow's demands to surrender at the start of its invasion.

"Two Russian Raptor boats were destroyed at dawn today near Snake Island," Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement distributed on social media.

The defence ministry also released grainy black and white ariel footage showing an explosion on a small military vessel.

"The Bayraktars are working," Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was cited as saying in the statement, referring to Turkish-made military drones.

Raptor patrol boats can carry up to three crew and 20 personnel. They are usually equiped with machine guns and used in reconnaissance or landing operations.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral in which Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed demands from crew of a Russian warship to surrender.

The Russian ship involved, the Moskva, sank in the Black Sea in mid-April following what Moscow said was an explosion on board. Ukraine said it had hit the warship with missiles.

Russia not seeking to end Ukraine war by May 9: FM

Russia is not looking to end its war in Ukraine by Victory Day on May 9, its foreign minister said, as the country looks set to mark the key anniversary under the cloud of a deadly conflict. 

Speaking with Italian outlet Mediaset, Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow would not rush to wrap up its so-called "special military operation" in time for the anniversary, which celebrates Nazi Germany's surrender to allied forces -- including the then Soviet Union -- in 1945. 

"Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including Victory Day," Lavrov said in the interview released Sunday. 

"The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimise any risks for the civilian population and Russian military personnel," he added.

Russia typically marks Victory Day in grand style, with a large military parade in central Moscow and a speech by President Vladimir Putin hailing the country's leading role in the defeat of fascism in Europe. 

But this year's celebrations will come against the backdrop of Moscow’s bloody military campaign in Ukraine, which Putin has justified with claims the ex-Soviet country requires "denazification" and other allusions to World War II. 

"We will solemnly celebrate May 9, as we always do. Remember those who fell for the liberation of Russia and other republics of the former USSR, for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi plague," Lavrov said.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced by Russia's invasion, which began on February 24.

Moscow has said that over a thousand of its soldiers have been killed in the operation. Ukraine claims Russia's losses are much higher. 

EU to propose phasing out Russian oil

The EU will propose a phased out ban on Russian oil imports as part of a fresh round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, sources said on Sunday.

The European Commission, which draws up sanctions for the bloc, is currently preparing a text that could be put to the 27 member states as early as Wednesday, diplomats said.

Several diplomats said the ban on oil was made possible after a U-turn by Germany, which had said the measure would do too much harm to its economy.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Russia was intensifying its attacks in Ukraine, making new sanctions "absolutely essential”.

"We must use our economic and financial abilities to make Russia pay the price for what it’s doing," he said.

The commission will propose introducing the ban over six to eight months to give countries time to diversify their supply, the sources said.

The ban requires unanimous backing and could yet be derailed, with Hungary expected to mount strong opposition as it is dependent on Russian oil and close to the Kremlin.

Other countries are worried that a ban on oil would increase prices at the pump when consumer prices are already sharply on the rise because of the war.

"We must be very attentive to market reactions," one official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"There are solutions and we will get there in the end, but we must act with great care."

- 'Little impact' -

Even though Russia exports two-thirds of its oil to the EU, the United States has expressed doubts about an outright ban.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that it might have little impact on Russia because it would push up prices for its remaining exports.

EU energy ministers will discuss the ban at talks on Monday in Brussels, though they will not sign off on the decision.

This sixth package of anti-Russian measures will also target the country's largest bank, Sberbank, which will be excluded from the international Swift messaging system, the diplomats said. 

The EU had already banned imports of Russian coal, but Poland and the Baltic states called for an oil embargo as well. 

Gas imports from Russia will remain untouched, with hugely dependent Germany promising to wean itself off Russian gas by mid-2024.

The reliance of Europe's biggest economy on Russian energy has been exposed as an Achilles' heel as Western allies scramble to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his attack on Ukraine.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.