A sixth round of Ukraine-linked anti-Russian sanctions is unlikely to include an oil embargo, multiple media reported citing EU government sources.
According to Bloomberg, EU countries are still struggling to agree on the full sanctions package, and some member states believe the decision on Russian oil should be postponed.
Representatives of Hungary insist that the embargo will have devastating consequences for their country’s economy. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently insisted that any option for an oil embargo be discussed at a summit of EU leaders.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Friday that work on the oil ban had so far yielded no results.
“If there is no agreement at ambassadorial level, then on Monday the ministers when they meet will have to give the political impetus… I am sure that we will have an agreement. We need it and we will get it. We must get rid of Russia’s oil dependence“, he said, quoted by Reuters.
The EU sanctions require the unanimous backing of all 27 nations, but ambassadors have been unable to reach agreement on the sixth sanctions package, which includes a proposed oil embargo, for nine days now.
The European Commission has proposed to ban the import of Russian crude oil from six months after the entry into force of the sixth sanctions package, and on the import of Russian petroleum products from 2023. At the same time , the EC has proposed to allow Hungary and Slovakia, highly dependent on Russia, to buy oil from Moscow until the end of 2024.
According to sources, however, the EC has already had to backtrack on a number of its proposals regarding the timing of the embargo, its specifications and possible exceptions.
Hungary strongly opposes the ban on Russian oil, with Prime Minister Orban calling it “nuclear bombon the Hungarian economy. Budapest has the support of other EU countries who believe the damage caused by this measure will be catastrophic for the bloc.
According to Politico magazine, in order to persuade Budapest, the EC has drawn up plans to offer financial compensation to Hungary if it signs the proposed embargo. Quoting three EU officials, the publication reports that this money could be “channeled to Budapest as part of the bloc’s new energy strategy, to be set out next week, to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.”
Besides oil, the new sanctions package would target three other Russian banks, which are to be disconnected from the SWIFT international payment system. EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the package on May 16.
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