The International Energy Agency plans to release 60 million barrels of oil — with the United States accounting for half of the total — in an effort “to send a strong message to oil markets” amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.
The 31-country alliance’s board made the decision following a meeting of energy ministers led by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday (March 1), with Granholm confirming President Joe Biden‘s approval to commit 30 million barrels and the United States’ preparation to “take additional measures” if necessary.
Granholm said the IEA’s decision “reflects our common commitment to address significant market and supply disruptions related to President Putin’s war on Ukraine,” via the AP.
Russia is the third-largest global oil producer, exporting around 5 million barrels of crude oil daily, which accounts for 12% of the world’s international oil trade.
The AP reports 60% of the exported oil is sent throughout Europe and another 20% is distributed to China.
U.S. and European sanctions have not prohibited oil or gas exports and have included exceptions for oil and gas as of Tuesday’s report.
On Saturday, a senior U.S. Defense Department official told reporters that Ukraine’s resistance is stiffer than expected and Russians are increasingly frustrated by their lack of progress, specifically in the the capital city of Kyiv and Kharkiv.
At least 25 civilians and 137 soldiers were reportedly killed, while hundreds more were injured in Ukraine on the first day of Russia’s invasion.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed that the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine received reports of at least 25 civilians killed and more than 100 injured in connection to “shelling and air strikes” in a statement obtained by NBC News Friday (February 25) morning.
“This is more than the total number of civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. Human Rights Office on both sides of the contact line for the whole of 2021,” the statement read, noting that 25 people were killed and 85 injured in 2021.
The UN human rights office confirmed 114 of the 127 civilian casualties took place in Government-controlled areas such as the Donetsk, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions.
“Because of the security situation, civilian casualties in Government-controlled territory are likely to be under-reported, and real figures, therefore, could be higher,” the office said via NBC News.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at least 137 soldiers were killed and 316 were injured on Thursday, according to preliminary figures, CNN reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would conduct military operations in Eastern Ukraine during an NBC News translation of a speech addressing the Russian population prior to sunrise early Thursday morning in Moscow.
The announcement appeared to serve as the final action ahead of an attack by Putin and the Russian military, which the U.S. and European allies to the neighboring Ukraine have attempted to prevent from taking place through diplomatic discussions.
A Ukraine interior minister confirmed to NBC News via text message that “cruise and ballistic missile strikes” were already underway shortly after Putin’s announcement.
More than 1,000 protesters were reportedly arrested during anti-war protests throughout Russia amid President Putin’s announcement to conduct military operations and ensuing attack on Ukraine, BNO News reported.