By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — The European Union officially confirmed its latest round of sanctions on Russia on Friday, taking its first tentative steps to ban Russian energy sales across the continent.
The measures, which were proposed at a summit meeting earlier in the week, include a ban on Russian coal imports, albeit only from August. The timeline was pushed out after opposition from Germany, which says it cannot adapt immediately to a sudden stop in Russian energy deliveries.
The news came on a day when over 30 civilians were killed and more than 100 injured when artillery shells hit the railroad station at Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. The region has been earmarked by Russia’s Defense Ministry as the top priority for conquest in the wake of its defeat around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Kramatorsk is located in the part of the region of Donetsk which stayed under Ukrainian control after Russian proxies set up their own self-declared states in Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk in 2014.
The attack happened as Ukrainian authorities were trying to evacuate as much of the town’s civilian population as possible, in anticipation of a fresh assault on the region by Russian forces.
Shrapnel of an Iskander ballistic missile was recovered at the site of the attack.
Reports quoted Oleksandr Kamyshin, the head of Ukraine’s railroad operator Ukrzaliznytsia, as saying that a Russian airstrike near the town of Barvinkove had hit the only Ukrainian-controlled exit route from the cities of Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, and Lyman, stalling evacuations from the region.
The UN estimates that over 10 million Ukrainians – more than a quarter of the country’s population – have been displaced by Russia’s invasion. Attempts to establish ‘humanitarian corridors’ to enable the evacuation of civilians have been repeatedly disrupted by hostilities.