EU determined to increase energy sanctions against Russia; Zelenskyy to address UN: Live Ukraine updates – USA TODAY

The European Union is considering a ban on all coal imports from Russia in what would be the first sanctions targeting Moscow’s lucrative energy income for its war in Ukraine.

The E.U. is determined to increase sanctions against Russia amid emerging evidence of mass slayings of Ukrainian civilians by invading Russian forces, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday. 

Le Maire said there is a “total determination” from all 27 European Union countries for more severe sanctions targeting oil and coal. Europe’s dependence on Russian oil, natural gas and coal had left energy sanctions off the table amid fears the entire continent could plunge into recession. 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans to address U.N. Security Council on Tuesday amid a growing global chorus condemning Russia for its brutal tactics in Ukraine. 

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, addressing a mayors forum organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, urged countries to halt all business with Russia “because every euro, every cent, they receive from Russians – or what you send to Russia – has the blood of Ukrainians on it.”

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Latest developments

►Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the report of civilian deaths as propaganda, claiming Ukrainian forces killed their own people “in a bid to dehumanize Russia and tarnish its image as much as possible.”

► E.U. Commission: President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy this week.

► The war will have a worldwide economic impact far beyond Europe: a World Bank report released Tuesday predicted slowing growth and rising poverty in Asia during the coming months due to disruptions to supplies of commodities, financial strains, and higher prices.

►The Ukrainian government says 18 journalists have been killed and 13 wounded in the country since the war began. In addition, eight have been abducted or taken prisoner and three are missing.

Zelenskyy to address UN Security Council today

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to emphasize the discovery of the bodies of more than 400 civilians that were found in Kyiv-area towns recently retaken from Russian forces when he pleads for more arms and stiffer sanctions before the U.N. Security Council. Germany and France have already reacted by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, suggesting they were spies. Biden said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.

The U.N. body will also receive a briefing from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday. U.N. officials are trying to arrange a cease-fire.

“It’s very difficult to conduct negotiations when you see what they did (in Bucha),” Zelenskyy said, adding that “dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured” in the suburb and elsewhere.

EU targets coal, oil, but not natural gas

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the E.U. needs to increase the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and that the ban on coal imports would be worth $4.4 billion per year. She added that the E.U. has already started working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.

Von der Leyen didn’t mention natural gas. A consensus among the 27 E.U. member countries on targeting gas that’s used to generate electricity, heat homes and power industry would be more difficult to secure.

Website links Ukraine refugees with hosts around the globe

A group of Harvard University students have created a website to help Ukrainian refugees find housing around the world., created by Avi Schiffmann and Marco Burstein, encourages everyone with space in their homes to post a listing. Refugees and hosts must provide identity verification either through government issued ID card or passport. Over 18,000 prospective hosts have signed up on the site. On a recent day, Burstein and Schiffman logged 800,000 users.

Burstein said he, Schiffman and Irish software engineer Daniel Conlon have been “blown away” by the response.

“We’ve heard all sorts of amazing stories of hosts and refugees getting connected all over the world,” Burstein said. “We have hosts in almost any country you can imagine from Hungary and Romania and Poland to Canada to Australia.”

State Department calls atrocities part of a ‘broader, troubling campaign’

The credible reports of torture, rape and civilian executions in Ukraine are probably not the acts of rogue soldiers, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

‘“They are part of a broader, troubling campaign,” he said at a State Department briefing.

Price said the world has been shocked by “the horrifying images of the Kremlin’s brutality” in Bucha and other cities near Kyiv. Civilians, many with their hands tied, were apparently executed in the streets.

Others were dumped in mass graves. As they’ve retreated, Russians have also left behind land mines and booby traps to injure more Ukrainians and slow recovery, Price said.

The apparent atrocities will be one of the topics of discussion when Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with his NATO counterparts in Belgium this week.

Allies are already discussing additional sanctions and ways to help Ukraine document war crimes for a criminal prosecution, Price said. The U.S. has contributed both money and manpower to help Ukraine’s prosecutor general compile a case.

— Maureen Groppe

Atrocities near Kyiv fuel global outrage. Will it be a tipping point in the war?

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Ukraine refugee flees to Germany for safety: ‘It’s duty as a mother’

With the help of German humanitarian volunteers, Ukraine refugees travel to Germany in hopes for a safe and better life far from war.

Jessica Koscielniak and Michelle Hanks, USA TODAY

German president admits mistakes with Russia

Germany’s president is admitting mistakes in policy toward Russia in his previous job as foreign minister. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier served twice foreign minister, most recently from 2013 to 2017, and pursued dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate energy ties. Russia provides Germany with about one-third of it oil and gas and more than half its coal.

Ukraine and Polish officials have criticized Steinmeier for being too close to Russia. Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin boycotted a peace concert with Russian artists organized by Steinmeier. Steinmeier told ZDF television Tuesday that “we failed on many points,” including efforts to encourage Russia toward democracy and respecting human rights.

Contributing: The Associated Press