EU Agrees to Partial Embargo Against Russian Oil
May 31, 2022 (EIRNS)—Last night the European Union voted to approve a partial ban of oil imports from Russia, beginning with an embargo of all oil coming in by Russian ships—which will affect two-thirds of Russian oil exports to Europe. Oil coming in by pipeline will be allowed to continue to flow for another six months. That temporary exemption covers the remaining Russian oil not yet banned, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained in a press conference. The goal is to reduce imports of Russian crude oil by 90% by the end of this year, and thus deprive Russia of the funds Brussels insists the Putin government is using “to finance the war” against Ukraine.
“We have agreed that the [European] Council will come back to this subject as soon as possible in one way or the other. So this is an issue we will come back to and where we will still have to work on, but this is a big step forward, what we did today,” she said, referring to the temporary exemption which covers the remaining Russian oil not yet banned. Von der Leyen explained that the temporary exemption was granted so that Hungary, along with Slovakia and the Czech Republic—all connected to the southern leg of the Druzhba pipeline—have access which they cannot easily replace. Hungary was promised replacement supplies should the oil it receives via the pipeline be disrupted.
Other provisions of the sanctions package include removing three more Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, including Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank; prohibiting the ability to provide consulting services to Russian companies and trade in a number of chemicals; sanctioning dozens of military personnel, including those being allegedly held responsible for war crimes at Bucha, and companies providing equipment, supplies, and services to the Russian armed forces. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán opposed the proposal to sanction Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Apparently it took a video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to propel the EU leaders toward a compromise agreement after it initially appeared that no agreement were possible. Even with the approval vote, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is now calling for a “pause” in further sanctions. The impact of the latest sanctions would be “enormous,” and therefore it’s necessary to really evaluate their impact, he said. The key now will be to control energy prices, RT reported him saying. When Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas suggested that an embargo on Russian gas should be discussed for the seventh round of sanctions, Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer bluntly stated that a gas embargo “would not be discussed in the next sanctions package.”