Ukraine is pushing for tougher Western pressure on Russian oil prices

Kyiv – The office of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday called for a lower price cap for Russian oil than that agreed by Ukraine’s western backers, amid calls from Russian authorities $60 per barrel cap detrimental to free, stable markets.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskyy’s office, wrote on social media that the price cap set by the European Union, Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and the United States on Friday did not go far enough. The upper limit is to come into force together with Monday an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.

“It would be necessary to lower it to $30 to destroy the enemy’s economy faster,” Yermak wrote on Telegram, staking out a position also favored by Poland – a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Of Ukraine.

The Russian embassy in Washington insisted that Russian oil “will continue to be in demand” and has criticized the price cap as “reshaping the basic principles of free market functioning”. A post on the embassy’s Telegram channel predicted that the per-barrel cap would lead to “a widespread increase in uncertainty and higher costs for consumers of commodities.”

The price cap aims to put economic pressure on Russia and further limit its ability to do so finance war which killed untold numbers of civilians and militants, drove millions of Ukrainians from their homes and weighed on the world economy for more than nine months.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that since Friday, Russian forces have fired five rockets, conducted 27 air strikes and launched 44 shell attacks on Ukraine’s military positions and civilian infrastructure.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said one civilian was killed and four others wounded in the attacks in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region. According to the British Ministry of Defense “Russian forces continue to invest a large part of their total military effort and firepower” around the small town of Bakhmut in Donestsk, which they have been trying to capture for weeks.

In southern Ukraine’s Kherson province, whose eponymous capital was liberated by Ukrainian forces three weeks ago after a Russian withdrawal, Governor Yaroslav Yanushkevich said evacuations of civilians stuck in Russian-held territory across the Dnieper were temporarily resuming.

Russian troops retreated to the east bank of the river last month. Yanushkevich said a ban on crossing the waterway would be lifted for three days in daylight for Ukrainian citizens who “didn’t have time to leave the temporarily occupied territory.” His announcement cited a “possible intensification of hostilities in this area”.

Kherson is one of four regions that Putin illegally annexed in September and vowed to defend as Russian territory. From their new positions, Russian troops have regularly shelled the city of Kherson and nearby infrastructure in recent days, leaving many residents without power. Running water remained unavailable in much of the city.

The other illegally annexed regions are Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia.

Ukrainian authorities also reported fierce fighting in Luhansk and Russian shelling of the Kharkiv region in north-eastern Ukraine, from which Russian soldiers largely withdrew in September.

The mayor of the northeastern city of Kharkiv said around 500 apartment buildings were damaged beyond repair and nearly 220 schools and kindergartens were damaged or destroyed. He estimated the cost of the damage at $9 billion.


Inna Varenytsia in Kherson, Ukraine contributed to this report.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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