Charles Michel, before Zelensky: “Sooner or later, the sanctions will also affect Russian oil and gas” | International


The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, assured this Wednesday in kyiv that “sooner or later” the sanctions of the European Union will also affect Russian oil and gas. “I am personally convinced of this,” he stressed at a joint press conference with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, within the framework of the surprise visit that he began this morning.

Michel stressed that, despite the fact that “the role of the Kremlin is also to divide the EU”, the Twenty-seven have unanimously approved five rounds of sanctions against Russia and the shipment of weapons to another country, Ukraine, for the first time in its history. . “It will not succeed in destroying Ukraine’s sovereignty or dividing the EU,” insisted Michel, who has passed over Germany’s refusal to include Russian oil in a sixth round of punishments and Hungary’s ―reiterated this Tuesday, by his foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto― to touch hydrocarbons. “The main objective of the sanctions is that they are painful for the Kremlin without being painful for us,” he explained.

Asked about Berlin’s position, Zelenski was confident that internal pressure in the EU, together with that of the United States and the United Kingdom, will change the opinion of the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “It seems to me that the EU countries are ready to introduce the oil embargo,” he said.

The joint press conference between the Belgian diplomat and the Ukrainian president has revolved around three other issues: the delivery of weapons, the situation in Mariupol and Ukraine’s entry into the EU, two days after Zelenski himself handed over the completed the first part of the accession questionnaire to the EU ambassador in kyiv, Matti Maasikas. Michel has admitted that “it is not a secret that there are different opinions and sensitivities about the enlargement of the EU”, but has clarified that he perceives “great support for the entry” of Ukraine.

Zelensky has assured that the West now has a “closer” and “clearer” position on “when and what” weapons Ukraine can receive. “I cannot mention the details,” he added after insisting on the importance of the supply “arriving on time” and corresponding to the needs of the country at this time of the war. “We will make sure that we provide you with what you need, the necessary means to win this war,” said Michel.

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As for Mariupol, the Ukrainian city hardest hit by the Russian offensive, Zelenski has estimated that around a thousand civilians are present in the symbol of Ukrainian resistance, the Azovstal steel mill. “I would like to say that everything is going to be easy and that we are going to help them tomorrow, but I can’t”, he pointed out. Likewise, he has admitted that “the situation is getting worse” and that his troops “are not achieving positive results there”, and has insisted that the last combatants in the town “do not want to surrender”, although Ukraine does not have the capacity to “unblock Mariupol “neither by military means nor by diplomatic means.

Michel announced his arrival in Ukraine on Wednesday morning with a message on his Twitter account along with a photograph at the central train station in the Ukrainian capital: “In kyiv today, the heart of a free and democratic Europe.” Later, he visited Borodianka, one of the towns around kyiv whose destruction has been visible after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the area at the beginning of the month to concentrate their offensive in the south and east of the country. There he tweeted that “history will not forgive the war crimes” committed there, “in Bucha and in too many other locations in Ukraine.” Already at the press conference he stressed that the “atrocities” and “war crimes” in Ukraine “must be punished and will be punished.”

Michel’s trip, which had not been announced, takes place twelve days after the one made on April 8 by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell.

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