BRUSSELS – The sixth package of economic sanctions against Russia was presented Wednesday, May 4th, before the European Parliament in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, forecasts in recent days. The most interesting aspect concerns the embargo on Russian oil: the European Commission has proposed a very gradual purchase ban in order to ensure the necessary consensus of 27 at the time of approval of the new measures.
“We are proposing a ban on oil coming by sea and by pipeline, crude and refined. However, we want a gradual ban, done in an orderly way, to allow us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes (…) That is why we will phase out Russian supplies of crude oil and refined products within six months. By the end of the year,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Looking for a middle ground
The oil issue is particularly controversial. Some countries, such as landlocked Hungary and Slovakia, depend entirely on Russian crude oil. Brussels’ attempt is to allow the 27 to find a middle ground when it comes to agreeing to the package in the coming days. The first meeting between diplomatic representatives took place today, Wednesday 4th, and official approval of the package is expected by May 9th.
In the afternoon, Hungary and Slovakia publicly highlighted their disagreement with the solution proposed by the European Commission on the oil front, given their special status. Other member states have criticized the ban, also contained in this sanctions package, on the transport of Russian oil to ships flying the European flag. Other meetings between European diplomats are scheduled in the coming days.
Finance, Russian exporters and Patriarch Kirill
As circulated in recent days, the package also provides for the exclusion of Swift, the financial messaging system, from three credit institutions, including Sberbank, which controls a third of bank assets in Russia. Three Russian public radio stations will be banned. “They will no longer be able to distribute their content in the European Union, in any form, via cable, satellite, Internet or smartphone applications,” von der Leyen added, considering them “advertising tools.”
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