Macron calls for ban on Russian oil and coal after Bucha killings

The French president says targeting the oil and coal industries would be ‘particularly’ painful for sanctions-hit Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said new sanctions targeting the oil and coal industries would be 'particularly' painful [Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters]

French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for banning Russian oil and coal as part of a new round of sanctions against Russia, after reports emerged of mass graves and atrocities in the town of Bucha, a town outside Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

“What happened in Bucha demands a new round of sanctions and very clear measures,” Macron told France Inter radio on Monday, adding that there were “very clear indications of war crimes”.

Macron, who faces a re-election battle this week, said new sanctions targeting the oil and coal industries would be “particularly” painful for Russia.

France will coordinate such steps with its European Union partners, “especially Germany”, in the coming days, he said, adding that the bloc could also impose further sanctions against Russian individuals.

The EU had been weighing a possible ban on Russian crude imports, though some members including Germany, which is heavily reliant on imports from Moscow, opposed such a move.

However, outrage at the evidence emerging from Kyiv province following the departure of Russian forces could prompt the EU to cut its gas dependence on Russia, which provides some 45 percent of its needs. Russia also accounts for about 25 percent of oil imports and 45 percent of coal imports, according to the European Commission.

After Ukrainian forces regained control of Bucha on March 31, images of bodies lying on the streets – including some with their hands bound behind their backs – sent shockwaves through international capitals.

Local authorities said they had been forced to dig communal graves to bury the dead accumulating in the streets.

“The scenes are unbearable. International justice must work. Those who were behind these crimes must respond,” Macron said.

Russia’s defence ministry has denied Ukraine’s accusation that it carried out a “massacre”. Russia’s chief investigator ordered an official examination of what he called a Ukrainian “provocation”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said Russian “experts at the Ministry of Defence have identified signs of video fakes and various fakes” and urged international leaders to “not rush to sweeping accusations and at least listen to our arguments”.

Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX Research at Commerzbank, told the Reuters news agency more sanctions would heighten the risk of energy disruptions in Europe “because of our own sanctions or because Russia might get completely serious with its counter-sanctions, rather than just changing the payment mode for natural gas”.

“In my view, the risk of significant euro weakness increases,” he said.

Russia’s economy has been hit hard by Western punitive measures following its invasion of Ukraine and is currently facing the gravest crisis since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies