Ukraine said Russia had launched a new round of missile attacks on Monday as the West tried to limit Moscow’s ability to finance its invasion by imposing a price cap on Russian seaborne oil.
Air alerts sounded across Ukraine and officials urged civilians to take shelter from what they said was the latest in waves of Russian missile strikes since its Feb. 24 invasion.
“Missiles have already been launched,” air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said. There was no immediate word of any damage or casualties but officials were quoted by Ukrainian media as saying that explosions could be heard overhead in some areas as air defence systems went into action.
Russian forces have increasingly targeted Ukrainian energy facilities in recent weeks as they faced setbacks on the battlefield, causing major power outages as winter sets in.
“Don’t ignore the alarm,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential staff.
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Russian missiles crashed into buildings in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, destroying several houses and killing at least two people, a senior Ukrainian official said.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, gave no further details of the attacks. A city official said buildings had been hit in the suburbs of the city of Zaporizhzhia and some Russian missiles had been shot down.
The governor of the Kyiv region said air defences were working in the region, and told residents to remain in shelters. An energy provider said power had been knocked out on the northern region of Sumy in the latest missile strikes.
Russia has said the attacks are designed to degrade Ukraine’s military. Ukraine says they are clearly aimed at civilians and thus constitute a war crime.
Ukraine had only just returned to scheduled power outages from Monday rather than the emergency blackouts it has suffered since widespread Russian strikes on Nov. 23, the worst of the attacks on energy infrastructure that began in early October.
Russia cries foul
A $60 US per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil came into force on Monday. The G7 nations and Australia agreed to it on Friday after European Union member Poland, which wanted it even lower, dropped its objections. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil exporter.
The agreement allows Russian oil to be shipped to third-party countries using G7 and EU tankers, insurance companies and credit institutions, only if the cargo is bought at or below the $60 per barrel cap.
“It took a long time to get here — but this arguably is one of the strongest responses to [Vladimir] Putin’s war in Ukraine,” tweeted Simone Tagliapietra, an energy policy expert at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels.
Moscow has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said $60 was too high to stop Russia’s assault.
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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of energy issues, warned in televised comments on Sunday that Russia won’t sell its oil to countries that try to apply the price cap.
“We will only sell oil and oil products to the countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce output to some extent,” Novak said in televised remarks hours before the price cap came into effect.
India noncommittal on cap
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday it was “obvious and indisputable that the adoption of these decisions is a step towards destabilizing world energy markets.”
India has so far not committed to the price cap.
While hosting Germany’s foreign affairs minister on Monday, the country’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam said it isn’t right for European countries to prioritize their energy needs but “ask India to do something else.”
India and Russia have close relations and New Delhi has not supported Western sanctions on Moscow, even though it has repeatedly urged an “immediate cessation of violence” in Ukraine. India, also a major market for Russian-made weapons, has so far abstained from UN resolutions critical of Moscow’s war.