Putin Retaliates Against West, Bans Russian Oil to Countries that Implemented Price Cap

Russia retaliated on Tuesday against price caps imposed on its oil by Western countries, while its forces were involved in heavy fighting around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Moscow will ban oil sales to countries that adhere to a price cap imposed on December 5, President Vladimir Putin ruled.

The price range, also not seen during the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union, aimed to cripple Moscow’s military efforts in Russia. ukraine – without actually upsetting the markets by blocking Russian supplies.

Under the cap, oil traders who want to retain access to Western financing for such critical aspects of global shipping as insurance must promise to pay no more than $60 a barrel for Russian marine oil.

That’s close to the current price for Russian oil, but well below the prices Russia was able to sell it for through much of last year, when windfall energy profits helped Moscow offset the effects of financial sanctions.

Putin’s decree, published on a government portal and Kremlin website, was presented as a “direct response to actions that are unfriendly and contradictory to international law by the United States and foreign states and international organizations that join them”. “.

The Kremlin ban will halt crude oil sales to countries participating in the price cap from February 1 to July 1, 2023. A separate ban on refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel will come into effect on a date to be determined by the government. Putin would have the authority to cancel the measures in special cases.

Russia is the world’s second-biggest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, and any real disruption to its sales would have far-reaching consequences for global energy supplies.

Ghost town

On the ground in eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian forces again on Tuesday shelled and bombed towns and cities. After several dramatic Ukrainian gains in the autumn, the war entered a slow, grinding phase as the bitter winter weather unfolded.

The heaviest fighting has been around the eastern town of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to recapture for months at a high cost of lives, and further north in the towns of Svyatov and Kremina, where Ukraine is trying to break Russian defensive lines. doing.

In Bakhmut, home to 70,000 people before the war and now a mostly bomb-ravaged ghost town, Reuters reporters saw a large residential building on fire, while debris strewn the streets and most buildings had blown out windows Was

“Our building is destroyed. There used to be a shop in our building, it’s not there anymore,” said 85-year-old Oleksandr, the only remaining resident there.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

Nearby, 73-year-old Pilahia said she had long become accustomed to the “constant explosions”.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in an update: “Russia has continued to launch small-scale attacks in these areas (of Bakhmut and Swatov), ​​although smaller areas have changed hands.”

In Kherson, abandoned by Russian troops last month, Russian forces bombed the maternity wing of a hospital, Kirill Timoshenko, deputy chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a telegram. Tymoshenko said no one was hurt and that staff and patients had been taken to a shelter.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the reports.

The Kremlin’s military campaign was determined to subdue Ukraine within days of the February invasion, but its forces were defeated on the outskirts of Kyiv in the spring and forced to flee to other regions in the autumn.

Putin has responded by summoning hundreds of thousands of reservists for the first time since world Battle two to fight in your “Special Military Operations”.

In the latest blow to Russia’s military, a suspected Ukrainian drone struck the main base of Russia’s long-range strategic bomber fleet hundreds of kilometers inside Russian airspace on Monday. Moscow said it shot down the drone but at least three soldiers were killed.

It was the second time since the beginning of December that the base was attacked, a sign that Russia has not yet bridged the gap in its air defenses that made the audacious attack possible.

Putin has repeatedly spoken of his desire for peace talks in comments in recent days. But his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, made clear that Moscow still had a list of preconditions, including that Ukraine recognize Russia’s conquest by force of about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, about He says that he has captured.

Kyiv says it is winning the war and will never agree to give up the land.

In a speech late on Tuesday, Zelensky said a meeting of the military command had “established the steps to be taken in the near future.”

“We will continue to prepare the Armed Forces and the security of Ukraine for the next year. This will be a decisive year. We understand the dangers of winter. We understand what needs to be done in the spring,” he said.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)