(Bloomberg) — European Union ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss their response to Vladimir Putin’s demand to pay for gas in rubles and to bridge differences over how to boost the bloc’s gas storage reserves. Hungary threatened to veto any European proposal that leads to the restriction of energy imports for the country from Russia.
Sanctions against Russia can only be lifted after its forces leave Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, adding this includes Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
About 100 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the eastern port city of Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, in an operation involving the United Nations and Red Cross. Ukraine’s military said Russian attacks continued in the east around Izyum with the conflict extending along most of the contact line in the Donetsk area that delineates pro-Russian separatist areas of the country.
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Poland Calls for Embargo on Russian Oil and Gas (3:07 p.m.)
Poland supports a ban on Russian oil and will call for an embargo on gas, preferably at the same time, Climate Minister Anna Moskwa told reporters before an extraordinary EU meeting of energy ministers in Brussels on Monday. To encourage skeptical nations to get rid of their dependency on fossil fuels from Moscow, Poland wants to propose a special carbon market-like mechanism on energy sources imported from Russia.
Such a system would set a date at which the use of energy sources from Russia should be zeroed out. Each member state would get assigned a quota of fossil fuels that it can import and those wanting to use more would have to buy permits to do so from those who use less than their limit. Revenues from such a program could be used to help Ukraine or to aid diversification of energy sources.
EU United on Rejecting Putin Gas Demand, Pompili Says (2:38 p.m.)
The EU is using a meeting of energy ministers Monday to demonstrate its unity over continuing to pay for Russian gas in euros, and to reassure Poland and Bulgaria of Europe’s help after being cut off by Moscow, Barbara Pompili, France’s minister for ecological transition, told reporters in Brussels.
Pompili declined to say whether member states would reach an agreement on gas storage this week but said that talks were advancing.
Americans Back Further Russia Sanctions by Large Majority (2:30 p.m.)
A large, bipartisan majority of Americans support increased sanctions against Russia and most also backing military and humanitarian support for Ukrainians, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
In all, 73% say the U.S. is doing either the right amount or too little to support Ukraine. At the same time, 72% oppose the U.S. taking direct military action against Russian forces, while 21% support the idea.
Key Bridge Struck by Missile Attack (12:45 p.m.)
A key bridge across the Dniester estuary west of Odesa was hit by missiles on Monday for the third time in a month, the region’s military spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said on Telegram. The bridge is important because it crosses a navigable inlet which allows access to Transnistria from the Black Sea. It is also the main transportation link between the southwestern part of Ukraine’s Odesa region and the rest of the country.
Germany Sees Russian Oil Exit by No Later Than Year-End (11:45 a.m.)
Germany is looking to end its reliance on Russian oil by the end of 2022 at the latest. “If it’s possible sooner, then all well and good,” Steffen Hebestreit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s chief spokesman, said Monday in Berlin.
According to the Economy Ministry, which oversees energy issues, it’s “realistic” for Germany to end its dependence on Russian crude imports “by the late summer.” Germany has cut the Russian share of total oil imports to around 12% from about one third before the invasion of Ukraine.
Pro-Russia Hacking Group Targets Romania (11:03 a.m.)
Romanian government websites, including those of the country’s defense ministry and border police, were the target of a cyberattack on Friday that the nation’s intelligence service attributed to a pro-Russian hacking unit.
The hacker group known as Killnet claimed credit for so-called distributed denial-of-service attack, which began at around 4 a.m. local time, the Romanian Intelligence Service said in a statement.
Russian Shelling Continues in Donetsk, Luhansk (10:15 a.m.)
Ukraine’s military said Russia continued shelling overnight across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east, with storage facilities and residential areas hit.
There were artillery strikes on Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant after a window where some civilians were able to leave, National Guard brigade commander Denys Shleha said in televised comments. He added there are still around 200 civilians at Azovstal and 500 wounded soldiers, with more evacuations planned Monday.
Ukraine used drones to destroy two Russian speedboats near Snake Island, army Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said in a Facebook post. On Sunday the military had said Russian forces were using the speedboats to evacuate troops.
Finland Terminates Rosatom Contract (9:41 a.m.)
Fennovoima Oy terminated a contract with Rosatom Corp. for the delivery of the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant, citing significant delays and the company’s inability to mitigate risks stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
EU Energy Ministers to Discuss Russian Gas (8:11 a.m.)
European Union energy ministers meet on Monday to discuss that bloc’s gas situation, in particular Moscow’s decision to cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, reaffirmed that foreign payments for gas will be considered complete only after they are converted into rubles, making it difficult for Europeans to purchase supplies without violating sanctions.
“Gas supplies are considered paid not when euros or dollars arrive but when they are converted into rubles, which can’t be stolen,” Lavrov said in an interview with Italian TV channel Rete 4 over the weekend, his first with Western media since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Germany to Woo India With G-7 Invite in Push to Isolate Russia (7:21 a.m.)
Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as special guest to a Group of Seven leaders’ summit next month, according to people familiar with the discussions. The decision could be announced as early as Monday, when Scholz hosts Modi in Berlin.
Scholz was undecided on Modi’s invitation until a few weeks ago given the prime minister’s reluctance to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a jump in fossil fuel deliveries to India from Russia.
Jill Biden to Meet Displaced Ukrainians (5:58 a.m.)
First lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia from May 5-9, the White House said in a statement. During her visit she will meet Ukrainian mothers and children forced to flee because of the war, it said.
South Korea Diplomats Return to Kyiv (2:39 a.m.)
South Korea plans to resume operations at its embassy in Kyiv from Monday. Embassy staff had been evacuated to the Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi as well as Romania, the foreign ministry said.
Baerbock Says Sanctions Lifted After Russian Withdrawal (1:10 a.m.)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made clear that sanctions against Russia would only be lifted after a complete withdrawal of its troops from Ukrainian territory. She included Crimea in that, which Russia annexed in 2014 and would be unlikely to cede again.
“It is important that we can withstand every sanction that we introduce, if necessary, for years,” Baerbock told public broadcaster ARD. “We will only lift these sanctions once the Russian troops have left.”
Hungary Would Veto EU Sanctions on Russian Energy (11:55 p.m.)
Hungary would veto any European proposal that leads to the restriction of energy imports from Russia, according to a senior minister in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.
“We’ve made it clear that we’ll never support” extending European Union sanctions against Russia to the field of energy, Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas told HirTV on Sunday.