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kyiv has called for more heavy weapons from its Western allies and “ruinous” sanctions on Moscow, saying the scale of any impending Russian attack on eastern Ukraine would remind members of the NATO World War II..

“Either you help us now – and I’m talking about days, not weeks – or your help will come too late and many people will die,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a meeting of his counterparts. of the alliance in Brussels on Thursday.

Kuleba said he expected NATO members to send kyiv the weapons it needed, including air defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles and jets, but insisted they must act quickly as Moscow refocuses its offensive on the Donbass region.

“I have no doubt that Ukraine will have the necessary weapons to fight,” he said. “The question is the timeline. The Battle of Donbass will remind you of the Second World War with large operations, thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft, artillery.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that the alliance had agreed to step up support for Ukraine, was providing “a wide range” of weapons systems and would also provide support and equipment for cybersecurity to protect against chemical and biological threats..

He said there were no signs Russian President Vladimir Putin intended to step down. “We have no indication that he has changed his overall goal, which is to control Ukraine and achieve significant military victories on the battlefield,” he said.

“What we see is a regrouping and a repositioning of Russia. We expect a big battle in the Donbass. We are ready for the long term. This war can last for weeks, but also for months, even years. And so we have to prepare for a lot more.

As peace talks between Russia and Ukraine continued via video, Turkey, which hosted two meetings between the sides, said footage of what appeared to be deliberate killings of civilians in Bucha and cities in the kyiv region had “eclipsed” the negotiations and ruined an “emergence”. positive atmosphere.

Photos and videos of dead civilians, some with their hands tied, on the streets of Bucha after it was recaptured from Russian invaders have sparked international revulsion and renewed Ukraine’s calls for more weapons and tougher sanctions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that kyiv had presented Moscow with a draft peace agreement containing “unacceptable” elements and deviating from previously agreed proposals, but Ukraine’s chief negotiator , Mykhailo Podolyak, dismissed the comments as “purely propagandistic” and aimed at diverting attention from the events in Bucha.

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A day after the announcement of a new round of Western sanctions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said they did not go far enough and that Russia would consider them a “license to attack”. Some politicians were still “unable to decide how to limit the flow of…oil euros to Russia so as not to put their economies at risk”, he said.

The West must “bring Russia to justice”, Zelenskiy told the Greek parliament, and teach Moscow that “those who blackmail Europe with an economic and energy crisis always lose”. Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office, said the sanctions “must be ruinous enough for us to end this terrible war”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc is expected to approve its fifth round of economic sanctions, including a ban on imports of Russian coal worth around 4 billion euros ( £3.3 billion), by Friday and that measures against Russian oil would be discussed by foreign ministers on Monday.

“Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, it will happen,” he said. Zelenskiy is due to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv on Friday, the Ukrainian government confirmed, adding that no advance details of the talks would be announced for security reasons.

But as it welcomed new sanctions announced by the EU, Britain and the US – which targeted two daughters of Vladimir Putin as well as Russia’s biggest public and private banks – Ukraine insisted on the fact that Europe in particular should go further.

“We will continue to insist on a total oil and gas embargo for Russia,” Kuleba said. “I hope we never face a situation again where, to intensify the sanctions pressure, we need atrocities like Bucha to come to light.”

He stressed the vital importance of arms supplies as well as sanctions, saying the deal Ukraine offered was fair: “You give us arms, we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine.” He added: “My program is very simple. It contains only three elements. They are weapons, weapons and weapons.

European sources said Europe’s ban on Russian coal imports – the key measure of its latest sanctions – would not come into force until August, a month later than planned after pressure from Germany , the bloc’s largest importer of Russian coal. The UK is expected to ban Russian coal by the end of the year.

However, the punitive measures on oil and gas, which are much larger imports, have divided the EU27, with member states more dependent on imports from Russia, fearing the economic consequences. Russia accounts for around 40% of the EU’s natural gas consumption and a third of its oil imports.

Ukraine on Thursday accused Hungary, which said it was ready to pay in rubles for Russian gas, of adopting an “unfriendly” position. “If Hungary really wants to help end the war, here’s how to do it: stop destroying the unity of the EU,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.

Budapest should “support new anti-Russian sanctions, provide military assistance to Ukraine and not create additional sources of funding for the Russian military machine”, he added. “It’s never too late to get on the right side of history.”

Putin called Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has long sought a rapprochement with Moscow, to congratulate him after his party won a fourth consecutive term in general elections last week. Ukraine’s foreign ministry said a later offer by Budapest to host peace talks “seems cynical”.

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