The European Union is preparing to ban the import of Russian oil, with possible exceptions, while the bloc’s energy ministers held an emergency meeting on Monday over Russia’s demand to pay rubles for gas shipments.
At the end of this emergency meeting, the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simsun, reiterated that using the payment system established by Russia to convert payments for Russian gas imports into rubles would represent Violation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Moscow.
The European Commission is expected to propose this week Sixth round of sanctions against Russia Which can include creating the ban on Russian oil imports. The measure, which has divided the countries of the European Union so far, will deprive Moscow of an important source of revenue. Russia supplies 40% of the EU’s gas imports and 26% of its oil imports.
Diplomats said on Monday that the commission could give Hungary and Slovakia an exemption or a long transition period to preserve European unity, while the ban should be implemented in phases by the end of the year.
Both Hungary and Slovakia are highly dependent on Russian crude oil. Hungary has already announced that it will oppose energy sanctions.
Opposition from other European countries to the oil embargo appears to be waning ahead of Wednesday’s meeting where ambassadors will discuss sanctions.
“We managed to reach a state where Germany can withstand the oil embargo“This means that it will not be without consequences,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday.
“Germany is not against a Russian oil embargo. Of course this is a heavy burden, but we would be prepared to do it” – Robert Habeck
He added that Europe’s largest economy had reduced Russia’s share of oil to 12% from 35% before the start of the Russian offensive on Ukraine.
Austrian Climate Protection Minister Leonor Goesler said Vienna would accept Impose oil sanctions if other countries do.
“It would be beneficial if we had weeks or months to do all the technical preparations. We would have to find ships to take oil from west to east, we would have to prepare the ports, we would have to prepare the pipelines, so having time would be useful,” Robert Habeck added. She has bigger problems.”
Last week, Russian energy giant Gazprom halted gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland after the European countries refused to make payments on terms demanded by Moscow.
While Sofia and Warsaw had already planned to end imports of Russian gas by the end of the year and said they could make up for Gazprom’s halt in deliveries, the decision raised concerns that other EU countries find themselves in the same situation, including Germany, which is suffering badly. Depends on Russian gas.
No lifting of sanctions on Russia without a peace agreement in Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said on Monday that the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine will not be lifted until a peace agreement is reached between Moscow and Kiev.
“Our goal is for Russia to end the war and withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory,” the German leader said in an interview with public radio ZDF.
Olaf Schultz continued, “We will only lift sanctions if (Russian President Vladimir Putin) reaches an agreement with Ukraine, and he will not get it by dictating peace terms.”
He added that the EU would never accept the fait accompli of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The case also threatens to open breaches in the united front that the European Union has shown against Russia since the start of its attack on Ukraine, while differences still exist between the countries of the community bloc in the march to follow up on gas imports.
With several European companies having to make contractual payments for Russian gas this month, it has become imperative for the EU27 to clarify whether maintaining such purchases is a violation of European sanctions against Moscow.
Brussels began considering a new directive after being requested by several countries, including Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Poland and Slovakia.
European Union countries have paid more than 46 billion euros to Russia for gas and oil since its attack on Ukraine, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
3000 civilians killed in Ukraine
The announcement comes as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday that more than 3,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
According to the latest toll, 3,153 people are believed to have died so far, an increase of 254 from Friday, although the UN body expects the actual number to be much higher, due to access difficulties and ongoing verifications.
The High Commission said that most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons of wide impact, such as missile strikes and air strikes, without attributing responsibility.