Although the EU condemns “war crimes” in Ukraine, new sanctions are unlikely

EU countries have accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine

In the wake of civilian casualties in the besieged port city of Mariupol, German Foreign Minister Analina Bয়ারyenbck highlighted the rise in Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and theaters.

“The courts have to decide, but for me these are clearly war crimes,” Bayerbock said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said before chairing a meeting of foreign ministers in the 27-nation bloc in Brussels that “what is happening in Mariupol is a huge war crime. It is destroying, bombing and killing everyone indiscriminately.

The southern city surrounded by the Azov Sea has seen some of the worst of the war. Multiple attempts to evacuate residents from Mariupol have failed or only partially succeeded. City officials say the siege killed at least 2,300 people, some buried in mass graves.

Borrell underlined that “there are laws of war.” The Netherlands International Criminal Court is collecting evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Cavani said his country was “open to other measures for accountability in light of the atrocities taking place in Ukraine at the moment.”

Cavani said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was probably the first “war on social media, where people see images live and they get angry.”

“This is causing outrage among the people across the European Union. Why can’t we stop this,” he told reporters. “They want people to be held accountable for the decisions they make and the brutality we see.”

Imposing a new round of sanctions – accumulation of wealth and travel bans – seems impossible at the moment.

Notorious for the often slow management of fast-paced international events, EU countries rallied just three weeks after the February 24 attack began to impose sanctions on 877 people. Among them are Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior minister and a pro-Kremlin oligarch.

Another 62 “entities” – companies, banks, airlines and shipbuilders – were hit in record time. However, due to the dependence of many EU countries on Russia’s natural gas supplies, the imposition of sanctions on energy remains highly sensitive.

A group of German-led nations are seeking a break from new measures, amid concerns over high energy prices and fears that Russia could cut off gas exports to Europe. Some want to preserve ammunition for new and larger war atrocities, such as the use of chemical weapons.

“We’re doing everything we can to close the gaps in sanctions,” which has already been agreed, Bearback said.

However, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsbergis, whose country borders Russia and Belarus, warned against “the fatigue of sanctions.”

“We cannot be tired of imposing sanctions. We cannot be tired of offering help and assistance to Ukraine, “he said.

He said the European Union must think about what kind of attack by Russia would form a “red line” for tough action. He said the shelling of cities and civilians did not seem to be enough to convince some member states “but there must be one somewhere.”

Landsbergis also said that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia need to strengthen their defense partners.

“I think we need to look at more equipment and a real defense plan for the Baltic states that reflects the changing strategic realities of the region,” he told reporters.


Gair Mulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


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