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- The European Union proposed a six-month ban on Russian crude imports and a year-end ban on Russian refined oil products causing oil prices to rise, while the bloc plans to sanction high-ranking Russian military officials involved in alleged war crimes, the Wall Street Journal wrote. The European Commission is also considering removing Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, as well as two other Russian banks from the Swift financial-messaging system. It also plans to bar three major Russian state-owned broadcasters from the bloc. At the same time, the EU’s executive body is proposing to allow Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2023 to stop their Russian oil imports, given how much these two nations rely on Moscow’s energy resources, Politico added.
- The European Union will “considerably increase” its military assistance to Moldova, where explosions in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria have raised fears that the conflict in Ukraine will spread to the neighboring country, Agence France-Presse noted. Meanwhile, the British defense ministry warned Wednesday that Russia is “highly likely” to try to seize the Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, effectively consolidating Moscow’s control over the Donbas region, the Hill wrote.
- The mayor of Mariupol said he lost contact with the city’s last Ukrainian defenders on Wednesday amid heavy fighting at the Azovstal steel plant, NBC News reported. For weeks, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance has held out in the vital southeastern port city, which is otherwise under Russian control.
- Belarus’ military began large-scale drills to assess its armed forces’ readiness to respond quickly to “possible crises” and counter threats from the air and ground, the Washington Post added. According to the Belarus Defense Ministry, the training exercise will not “pose any threat to the European community as a whole, or to neighboring countries in particular.”