We need Merkel and Blair Ex-Italy PM urges europhiles to spearhead EU-Russia peace talks
Russia: Huge blaze rips warehouse in Moscow
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Senator Matteo Renzi, former Italian Prime Minister argued a peace conference should be set up by the EU in a bid to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to end the ongoing deadly conflict. Speaking to Rai 1’s news channel on Monday, Mr Renzi claimed the so-called conference should be led by someone like former German Chancellor Angela Merkel or former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He said: “To have peace we absolutely need an EU that does not only carry out sanctions, but that does diplomacy.
“An EU that puts together a great peace conference perhaps led by someone like Angela Merkel or Tony Blair.
“Without diplomacy, this war will last years with devastating consequences.”
The call comes as EU member states are locking horns on the next package of sanctions set to be imposed on Russian oil exports.
Kyiv says Russia’s energy exports to Europe, so far largely exempt from international sanctions, are funding the Kremlin’s war effort with millions of euros every day.
“This package should include clear steps to block Russia’s revenues from energy resources,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
“We have managed to reach a situation where Germany is able to bear an oil embargo,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been more cautious than other Western leaders in backing Ukraine, has been under growing pressure to take a firmer line.
Mr Scholz vowed sanctions will not be lifted until Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a peace deal with Ukraine that Kyiv can support, he said in an interview with ZDF public television.
Ambassadors from EU countries will discuss the proposed oil sanctions when they meet on Wednesday.
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But Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday that his government will not support sanctions that would make Russian oil and gas shipments to the country impossible.
Speaking in Kazakhstan, Mr Szijjarto said Russian oil shipments via the Druzhba pipeline accounted for about 65 percent of the oil Hungary needed and there were no alternative supply routes that could replace that.
Slovakia will also seek an exemption from any oil embargo of Russian oil agreed by the European Union in its next set of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia’s Economy Ministry said on Tuesday.
“If it comes to an approved embargo of Russian oil as part of a further package of sanctions against Russia, then Slovakia will request an exemption,” the ministry told reporters.
Russian forces shelled Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and devastated several towns in eastern Ukraine.
Russia launched a major offensive in eastern Ukraine focused on the Donetsk and Luhansk after abandoning an assault on Kyiv at the end of March. Parts of those provinces were already held by Russian-backed separatists before President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24.
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Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska asked the West to maintain its support.
“Ukraine needs weapons so that Ukrainian refugees can return home and rebuild the economy. Therefore, we ask you not to stop, to accelerate the pace of heavy weapons provision,” she told British morning television.
The northeastern city of Kharkiv was under bombardment, as it has been since the early days of the invasion, the Ukrainian military said on Tuesday.
Giving an early update on battle front, Ukraine’s general staff said its forces were defending the approach to Kharkiv from Izyum, a town on the Donets river, some 120 km (75 miles) to the southeast, as the enemy left a trail of destruction in Luhansk province.
Ukraine’s military said Russian forces were trying to take the frontline Luhansk province town of Rubizhne and prepare an assault on nearby Sievierodonetsk.
The heaviest clashes were taking place around Popasna, farther south. Shelling was so intense it was not possible to collect bodies, said regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai.
Russian troops are now trying to encircle a large Ukrainian force there, attacking from three directions with massive bombardment along the front.
At least three civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the city of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president’s office said.
Some other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire and regional authorities were trying to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, it said.
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