EU proposes Russian oil ban
The European Commission has proposed a plan to end Russian oil imports within half a year as part of its sixth sanctions package against Russia, in order to deprive Moscow of revenues for its war in Ukraine.
Europe imports about 4mn barrels/day of oil and petroleum products from Russia, but dependence on these supplies varies greatly among different member states. Those most reliant on Russia are Finland, which depends on the country for close to 85% of its supply, and Lithuania and Poland, where the share stands at around 65%.
The commission wants to phase out Russian crude oil imports within six months and Russian petroleum products by the end of the year, its president Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech on May 4. The proposal comes less than a month after Brussels called for an embargo of Russian coal imports, and like previous sanctions that the commission has called for, it must be approved by member states before becoming law.
"Let us be clear: it will not be easy. Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil," von der Leyen said. "But we simply have to work on it. We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined."
The phase-out will be undertaken "in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets," the president said. "Thus, we maximise pressure on Russia, while at the same time minimising collateral damage to us and our partners around the globe."
Beyond oil, the latest sanctions package also proposes restrictions against Sberbank, Russia's top lender, adding it to several other Russian banks that have been cut off from the SWIFT financial messaging system. More high-ranking Russian military officials will also be blacklisted, von der Leyen said, without disclosing names, along with European accountants, consultants and spin doctors that work for Russian companies. The commission also wants to ban three large Russian state-owned broadcasters from the bloc's air waves.