US President Joe Biden announced ban on imports of Russian oil on Tuesday to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine as desperate civilians fled besieged cities and fresh fighting raged.
Britain said it would also phase out Russian oil by the end of the year and the EU planned to slash gas imports by two-thirds, as Western sanctions finally began to target the economic lifeline for Russia’s war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pressed on despite unprecedented sanctions, although Moscow agreed set up “humanitarian corridors” from four Ukrainian cities on the 13th day of the conflict.
The number of refugees flooding across Ukraine’s borders to escape towns devastated by shelling and air strikes passed two million, in Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II, the UN said.
Buses streamed out through an evacuation corridor from the northeastern city of Sumy — where 21 people were killed in air strikes overnight — while civilians on foot took an unofficial escape route out of the bombarded Kyiv suburb of Irpin.
But Ukraine accused Russia of attacking a corridor from the beleaguered southern port city of Mariupol, where aid workers said tens of thousands were living in “apocalyptic” conditions.
Kyiv has branded the corridors a publicity stunt as many of the exit routes lead into Russia or its ally Belarus. Both sides accuse each other of ceasefire violations.
Biden said Ukraine would “never be a victory” for Putin, as he announced the measures targeting the energy sector that props up the Russian economy and its war effort.
The Pentagon estimated that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers had been killed so far. Russia said on March 2 that 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine.