EU unveils plan to ban Russian oil imports

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has just laid out details of another package of sanctions against Russia to be agreed by EU countries in the coming days.  Von der Leyen said the bloc was ending its dependency on Russian oil – with purchases banned by the end of the year.

There is no consensus among the EU’s 27 members on winding down the use of Russian natural gas – a fuel which has not yet been targeted by EU sanctions.

Germany is dependent on purchases from Moscow. As the chart below shows, it’s the world’s top buyer of Russian gas. It’s worth noting, though, that the data is from 2020 – since when Berlin has been reducing its reliance. She acknowledged that it would not be easy, as some countries were dependent on such imports.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been giving details to the European Parliament of a sixth package of sanctions targeting Russia’s economy, its military and propaganda. She said that Russia’s Vladimir Putin wanted to wipe Ukraine from the map and would not succeed and it was his own country that was sinking.

“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion,” she said. “So in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and at the same time be very careful that we minimise the impact on the global market.”

Von der Leyen said crude oil imports would be phased out over six months and refined products by the end of 2022. Although she made no mention of any exemptions, two countries that are most reliant on Russian oil, Slovakia and Hungary, are expected to be given longer to find alternative sources.

“Thus we maximise pressure on Russia while at the same time we minimise the collateral damage on us and our partners around the globe. We have to ensure that our economy remains strong.”

She went on to give details of a package of relief and reconstruction for Ukraine: “We want to Ukraine to win this war,” she said. Von der Leyen said Ukraine’s economic output was set to fall by 35%-50% in 2022 and it would need €5bn a month just to keep going. “We have to do our share too.” [BBC]

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