Allies of the Ukrainian president Voldymyr Zelenskiy say Vladimir Putin will only accept a compromise on Ukraine’s future neutrality if he is facing a credible threat to his economic power base by a rapid and permanent exclusion of Russia’s oil and gas exports from its lucrative European markets.
The Russian government receives 40% of its budget revenues from energy exports.
But Ukraine is meeting stubborn resistance from Germany, which insists its economy would be plunged into recession if it suddenly lost access to Russian gas and oil.
In an interview reflecting the moral pressure Germany is under to do more, Germany’s Green economics minister, Robert Habeck, admitted Europe in the past had fed Ukraine false promises, but said Germany could not afford “the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs” that a full energy embargo would require. He said Germany at best could be freed of Russian coal by the autumn, of its oil by the end of the year, but could set no date for ending German reliance on gas.
The impasse is leaving senior allies of Zelenskiy feeling frustrated, and appealing to the UK and the US to use the G7 to try to persuade the Germany chancellor Olaf Scholz to sign up to a western timetable to end dependence on Russian energy.
Vladimir Putin will be “held responsible” for war crimes in Ukraine at the international criminal court in The Hague, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, has pledged, saying the UK would help gather the necessary evidence.
The justice secretary, Dominic Raab, was travelling to The Hague on Monday to help make sure that “when that prosecution comes, the court will have what it needs”, Javid told BBC One’s Breakfast programme.
Javid was asked for his response to the news that a pregnant woman shown in a much-used photograph being stretchered out of a bombed maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol had reportedly since died, as had her baby.
“It fills me with rage to see something like that. These are appalling atrocities committed on innocent civilians in Ukraine by the Russians,” Javid said, saying the World Health Organization had documented 31 attacks so far on health facilities.
“These are war crimes and Putin will be held responsible,” he added. Asked how, Javid said: “He will be ultimately held responsible for sure by the international court. Today, the justice secretary, my colleague, is going to The Hague and he’ll be meeting there with the chief prosecutor and others, offering UK support to gather evidence.”
The Tate has severed relations with Viktor Vekselberg and Petr Aven after the Russian billionaires were sanctioned by the US and EU after the invasion of Ukraine.
Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy conglomerate and an associate of Vladimir Putin, was an honorary member of the prestigious Tate Foundation, a fundraising charity for acquisitions, exhibitions, education and capital projects.
“Mr Vekselberg donated to Tate seven years ago and no longer holds his honorary membership title,” the London gallery group said. Vekselberg has already been the target of US sanctions imposed in 2018.
On Friday, he was again among a list of Russian billionaires facing US sanctions, with the government saying he has “maintained close ties” with Putin. His jet and yacht have been identified as “blocked property”.
As well as the Tate, he has donated in the US to the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall – prior to sanctions being imposed.
Vekselberg’s fortune is estimated to be as much as $9.3bn (£6.9bn), which he began amassing after Russia’s oil and aluminium industries were privatised.
Australia and the Netherlands have launched legal proceedings against Russia through the International Civil Aviation Organization for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The legal action could compel Russia to take part in stalled negotiations with the two countries, and could also result in it being penalised by the United Nations-linked organisation that is responsible for the administration of international aviation law.
Australia and the Netherlands have been seeking compensation and an apology from the Russian federation for the MH17 disaster, in which 298 people, including 38 Australians, died when it was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.
Ria van der Steen, who lost her father and stepmother in the MH17 crash, is preparing to give testimony in court in the trial of four men charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
However, Russia, which has denied involvement despite the findings of an international investigation, unilaterally withdrew from negotiations with the two countries in October 2020.