Brussels has proposed a gradual ban on imports of all Russian oil, with EU member states trying to agree on a sixth package of penalties against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
The ban will cover all Russian oil, carried by sea and pipelines, crude and refined, European Commission President Ursula von der Lane said on Wednesday. It has vowed to cancel supplies “in an orderly fashion”, using crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.
The commission also proposes banning European ships from transporting Russian oil and oil to any part of the world, according to a draft proposal seen by the Financial Times.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, will be cut off from Swift’s international banking payment system, von der Lane told the European Parliament. Two more banks, Moscow Credit Bank and the Russian Agricultural Bank, will be cut from Swift, according to the draft.
Just hours before the bids were presented, Sberbank Europe, Sberbank’s only major European subsidiary, was put into liquidation by Austrian regulators after running on customer deposits.
The moves are being discussed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday and will have to win the backing of all 27 member states. They mark the latest escalation in Western sanctions designed to undermine the Kremlin’s ability to wage war in Ukraine by undermining the pillars of the Russian economy.
Russia generates more revenue from the sale of oil and petroleum products than from gas exports. The commission seeks to follow a thin line to avoid raising the price of oil and inadvertently generate more revenue for President Vladimir Putin.
Brent oil climbed up 2.5% on Wednesday to a high of $ 107.58 a barrel after news of an EU bid. Brussels hopes that the phasing-out of the embargo will create more time for member states to ensure alternative supplies and prepare refineries to use different types of crude oil.
With the latest steps, “we are maximizing the pressure on Russia, while minimizing the damage that accompanies us and our partners around the world,” von der Lane said in Strasbourg. “To help Ukraine our economy needs to stay strong.”
Hungary and Slovakia are particularly reliant on Russian oil and will have until the end of 2023 to comply with the import ban, according to the committee’s draft plans.
But as an early sign of Hungary’s continued opposition, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs warned that Budapest saw no “plan or guarantees” as to ways to manage the move away from Russian oil.
Following the announcement by German Chancellor von der Lane, Olaf Schultz, he denied that it was a dangerous precedent to offer Hungary and Slovakia more time to adapt.
“[It is] “A continuation of the approach we have all adopted so far – the idea that we must ensure that everyone can really do what is required of him,” he said.
Robert Habakkuk, Germany’s economy minister, said the transition phase was “long enough to allow us to take all necessary precautions to find alternatives to Russian oil in Germany”. But he warned that there could be disruptions in supply and higher prices.
The draft also proposes not to allow vessels with the flag of a member state of the European Union or under the control of EU citizens to transfer crude oil or petroleum products originating in Russia.
Countries including Greece are expected to oppose the sanction. The Greek-owned fleet represents 51% of the EU’s flagship tonnage.
Von der Lane also said the EU would extend its ban on Russian broadcasters he accused of misinformation. She did not say who they were, but the draft document was called Rossiya RTR / RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24 / Russia 24 and TV Center International.
“They will no longer be allowed to distribute their content across the EU, in any form or form, whether it is via cable, via satellite, online or via smartphone apps,” von der Lane said in Strasbourg.
The draft sanctions also offer restrictions on the provision of audit services, as well as tax or public relations advice.
The momentum behind the oil ban has grown in recent weeks after Germany made it clear that it was making progress in reducing reliance on Russian oil. However, much greater opposition remains to the idea of banning Russian gas due to its critical role in the energy mix in a number of member states.
In response to the EU move, Oleg Austenko, Zalanski’s chief economic adviser, said the Ukrainians “watched in disbelief as our EU partners continue to buy Russian fossil fuels, financing war crimes in our country worth a billion euros every day.” He added: See action “but noted the” huge amounts “of Russian oil and gas still traded around the world.
Additional reports by Roman Olarchik in Kiev, Guy Hazan in Berlin, Neil Home in London and Sam Jones in Zurich
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