EU leaders have agreed to gradually ban Russian oil imports.
Since the start of the Russian military invasion in Ukraine on February 24, Western countries have responded by a number of economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia. The sanctions are designed to effectively counter Russia’s continued aggression on the neighbouring country.
Convening in a summit in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday, the EU leaders agreed, after several hours of talks, to gradually ban Russian oil imports. The compromise negotiated with difficulty in Brussels bans only seaborne oil purchases for the time being, exempting pipeline deliveries following the opposition of Hungary.
The measure is part of the 6th package of sanctions enacted by the EU since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said the measure, which will be enforced by the end of the year, immediately covers more than two-thirds of the Russian oil imports, cutting „a huge source of financing for [Russia’s] war machine” and delivering maximum „pressure on Russia to end the war”.
Imports via the Druzhba pipeline, which also supplies Hungary, will be exempt from the ban in a first stage, after Budapest used its veto rights to hinder the adoption of the 6th package of EU sanctions for several weeks. Hungary’s domestic consumption is 65% reliant on the Druzhba pipeline.
Negotiations are scheduled as soon as possible to move towards banning the remaining of the Russian oil imports.
Attending the summit in Brussels, the president of Romania Klaus Iohannis said Bucharest supported the new sanctions against Moscow.
Meanwhile, the EU leaders also agreed to remove 3 Russian banks, including Sberbank, from the Swift global payments system and to ban 3 other state-owned Russian broadcasters. So far, 7 Russian banks have been denied access to the Swift platform which enables major banking operations such as interbank transfers.
Also, a macro-financial aid package worth EUR 9 billion has been approved. The funds will allow Kyiv to cover its immediate cash demand and to keep its economy running. According to the Ukrainian authorities, the country needs EUR 5 billion per month. The EU funding will take the form of long-term loans with subsidised interests.
(Leyla Cheamil, Radio Romania International)