May 4 (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief executive proposed a phased oil embargo on Russia, as well as sanctions on its top bank and a ban on Russian broadcasters, in its toughest measures yet to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
OIL, GRAIN, DEBT
* Oil prices jumped on the proposed ban on Russian oil and the Kremlin said it was looking into various options in response. Germany said prices could go up considerably.
* The number of people facing a severe lack of food by a fifth to 193 million last year and the Ukraine war means the outlook will worsen without urgent action, a U.N. agency said.
* A Czech minister said the planned Russian oil ban did not include mechanisms for sharing the burden.
* An EU source told Reuters Hungary and Slovakia would be able to continue buying Russian crude oil until the end of 2023. Both countries said they needed a three-year transition period.
* Russian parliamentarian Vladimir Dzhabarov was quoted as saying Europe would continue buying Russian oil via third countries once it introduces an embargo.
* Russian oil exports, excluding to ex-Soviet states, rose in April, a source told Reuters, but sources have said major global trading houses plan to reduce crude and fuel purchases from Russia’s state-controlled oil companies as early as May 15. Read full story
* Ukraine’s grain exports fell to around 923,000 tonnes in April from 2.8 million tonnes in the same month in 2021 due to the Russian invasion, analyst APK-Inform said.
* The armed forces of Belarus began sudden large-scale drills to test their combat readiness, the defence ministry of Ukraine’s neighbour said.
* Russia’s defence ministry said it had disabled six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with Western-made weapons in the country’s east. Two cruise missiles were fired at Ukraine from a submarine in the Black Sea, the ministry was quoted by Interfax as saying.
* Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in an apparent effort to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk in the Donbas region, Britain said.
* A convoy of buses left Mariupol in a new attempt by Ukraine, the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the besieged city, the regional governor said.Reuters could not immediately verify reports of battlefield developments.
* Russia’s foreign ministry announced sanctions against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in what it called “unacceptable rhetoric” against Moscow.
* The European Union is considering additional military support to Ukraine’s western neighbour Moldova, EU Council President Charles Michel said on a visit to Chisinau on Wednesday.
* “We are addressing our dependency on Russian oil. And let’s be clear, it will not be easy because some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil, but we simply have to do it,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
* “We are still studying it, but it is a problem for me,” Czech minister Sikela said of the planned EU ban on Russian oil.
* “We had said goodbye to life, we didn’t think anyone knew we were there,” said Valentina Sytnykova, 70, who said she sheltered in the Azovstal steel works for two months with her son and 10-year-old granddaughter.