Ukraine Crisis: Mariupol evacuations continue as EU readies more sanctions on Russia

Russia

A group of around 100 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol. Moscow says some civilians were handed over to the Red Cross and the UN, who confirmed the operation. Ukrainian authorities started to evacuate more civilians from the city on Monday.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged Ukraine not to back down in the face of “bullies” like Russia following a surprise weekend visit to Kyiv. “Do not be bullied by bullies. If they are making threats, you cannot back down. That’s my view of it,” she told journalists in Poland after talks with President Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital.

The EU wants to phase out Russian oil imports as part of its fresh round of sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, according to sources in the bloc. The European Commission is currently preparing the text, which could be put to the member states as soon as Wednesday, diplomats say, but Hungary and Slovakia may be exempt from the embargo.

Daily requests for Russian gas deliveries through Ukraine into Europe via Slovakia have risen to their highest since the end of November, according to Slovakian data. Russia stopped gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria last week for their refusal to pay in rubles, although Poland is still getting Russian gas from Germany along the Yamal-Europe pipeline. 

Eight civilians have died following Russian shelling in Donetsk and Kharkiv, according to the regions’ governors, as Moscow’s forces push deeper into eastern Ukraine. Lyman, a former railway hub known, is expected to be the next city to fall after Ukrainian forces withdrew.