Ukraine's Zelenskiy calls for more EU sanctions on Russia
KYIV, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Thursday for more punitive measures against Russia by the European Union, but new sanctions the bloc is preparing for the one-year anniversary of the war are set to fall short of Kyiv's expectations.
Since Moscow invaded Ukraine a year ago this month, the EU has slapped unprecedented sanctions targeting Russia's defence and financial sectors, limiting trade and blacklisting some 1,500 people and entities deemed involved in driving the war.
But the bloc has still left many business ties untouched - including Belgium's diamond trade with Russia - and the 27 EU countries seem to have largely exhausted the scope for hard-hitting economic sanctions they can all grant their necessary approval to.
For example, Ukraine has called for sanctions targeting Russia's nuclear sector but Hungary - where Russia is due to expand the Paks nuclear power plant - has already said it would veto any such move.
"We can see that the pace of Europe's sanctions has slightly slowed down while the terrorist-state, on the contrary, is increasing its pace of adapting to sanctions," Zelenskiy told a news conference with the head of the EU's executive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on a visit to Kyiv.
"It's worth catching up and fixing (this). We believe that we can do it."
Von der Leyen said the bloc would have a new package of sanctions against Russia in place for the Feb. 24 anniversary of the start of the war, the biggest armed conflict in Europe since World War Two.
She said the oil price cap introduced by the EU and G7 partners cost Russia 160 million euros a day, and that another cap - on petroleum products - was coming.
"We are making (Russian President Vladimir) Putin pay for his atrocious war," she told the news conference. "Russia is paying a heavy price as our sanctions are eroding its economy, throwing it back by a generation."
"We will keep on turning up the pressure further."
The EU states have yet to agree, however, on the oil products price cap, with the bloc's Russia hawks Poland and the Baltic states pushing for a lower ceiling ahead of Monday when it is due to be implemented by all the G7 powers.
The Czech Republic proposed tighter tech sanctions to further limit Russia's ability to produce arms and rockets for the war, and the bloc is also working on closing loopholes and pushing back against sanctions evasion, including through Belarus.
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