There is an ammonia leak at a chemicals plant in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy besieged by Russian troops, Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said on Monday.
Zhyvytskyy did not say what had caused the leak reported at 04:30 local time (02:30 GMT) at the Sumykhimprom plant.
He said the area within a five-kilometre radius around the plant was hazardous.
At the same time, European Union governments will consider whether to impose an oil embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as they gather this week with U.S. President Joe Biden for a series of summits designed to harden the West’s response to Moscow.
Seeking to force a military withdrawal from Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the EU – along with Western allies – has already imposed a panoply of punishing sanctions including a freezing of the assets of the Russian central bank.
“We are working on a fifth round of sanctions and many new names are being proposed,” a senior EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity because the discussions are not public.
EU governments will take up the discussion among foreign ministers on Monday, before Biden arrives in Brussels on Thursday for summits with NATO’s 30 allies, as well as the EU and in a Group of Seven (G7) format including Japan.
The Kremlin has so far not been moved to change course in Ukraine by four rounds of EU sanctions imposed over the past three weeks, including on 685 Russians and Belarusians and on Russian finance and trade.
That leaves the bloc with the economically toughest choice of whether to target Russian oil, as the United States and Britain have done but not the 27-nation EU, given its dependence on Russian gas for energy.
Diplomats told Reuters that Baltic countries including Lithuania are pushing for an embargo as the next logical step, while Germany is warning against acting too quickly because of already high energy prices in Europe.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Putin has called Russia’s actions a “special operation” meant to demilitarize Ukraine and purge it of what he sees as dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an aggressive war of choice.