Ukraine. EU struggles to unite over Russian oil embargo | News | DW

Representatives of EU member states met in Brussels on Friday to negotiate a possible gradual embargo on Russian oil imports.

In order to implement a Russian oil ban, all 27 EU members would have to support the policy.

What do we know about the ongoing talks?

Ukrainian officials have urged the bloc to adopt the move, the latest move aimed at hurting Russia’s economy. However, some EU member countries fear that such a policy could have negative consequences for their economies.

“It’s not easy to establish unity,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a conference organized by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “The countries that are hesitating now are not ready yet. We are sitting down with these countries to find pragmatic things, like providing alternative oil to these countries.”

Hungary and Slovakia, for example, are opposed to an oil embargo because of their dependence on Russian energy.

In an interview with state radio, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said an embargo would cross a “red line” for Budapest and claimed von der Leyen “attacked European unity” by backing the policy.

Cyprus, Greece and Malta are also worried about the idea of ​​banning the transport of Russian oil. The three countries have the largest maritime fleets in the bloc.

“It is necessary to take into account the concerns of Greece, Malta and of course Cyprus on specific issues related to sanctions,” Cypriot President Nico Anastasiades told reporters during a visit to Athens. The Cypriot leader met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the trip and said the sentiment was a “common position” between the two countries.

“We are both clear,” continued Anastasiades. “We are against the Russian invasion and of course in favor of sanctions. But these sanctions must be targeted and not selective in serving certain member states and leaving others exposed.”

Could a modified EU embargo plan address member states’ concerns?

European sources told Reuters that the European Commission had amended its oil embargo proposal to address concerns expressed by member states.

The amended plan would allow Hungary and Slovakia to continue importing Russian oil until the end of 2024.

The initial proposal would have stopped imports of Russian oil into the EU within six months and refined petroleum products by the end of 2022. Hungary and Slovakia would have had until the end of 2023 to adapt to the initial plan of the EU.

The amended proposal would also include a three-month transition before banning EU shipping companies from carrying Russian oil to address concerns from Greece, Malta and Cyprus. The original plan called for a month-long transition.

Negotiations on the embargo could continue for much of the weekend. Other ideas for sanctions are said to be under consideration, including financial measures such as the expulsion of the Russian Sberbank from the global financial system SWIFT.

Some European diplomats want the new sanctions package to be enacted by Monday, when Russia celebrates its victory over the Nazis in World War II.

wd/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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