After weeks of intense negotiations, European Union leaders have agreed to ban most oil imports from Russia. The move is part of the bloc’s newest sanctions package on Moscow, which had been held up by a few member states like Hungary that are heavily reliant on Russian oil.
President of the European Council Charles Michel announced this on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday, May 31.
“This immediately covers more than 2/3 of oil imports from Russia, cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine. Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war,” the diplomat said.
In addition, the agreed sanctions package includes disconnecting Russia’s Sberbank from the international payment system SWIFT, banning three other Russian state broadcasters and punishing those responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday morning that this embargo would apply to around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of this year. About two-thirds of imports would be blocked in the near term, Charles Michel of the European Council said.
The summit of the European Council, which discussed the sixth package of sanctions, is still ongoing. Diplomats have yet to agree on the technical details of the decision before sanctions are formally adopted by all 27 member states.
Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary and a friend of Vladimir Putin, was largely responsible for the delay in and changes to this latest round of sanctions. He threatened to tank the entire package, a scenario that would have been a big embarrassment for the EU.
Orbán is concerned about an EU-wide oil embargo on Russia because Hungary receives more than 60% of its oil from Russia via a pipeline, but Carnegie Europe’s Judy Dempsey says that Orbán has many reasons to block the EU’s actions on Russia — including weakening the EU itself from within.
As The FreeDom News reported earlier, on Monday the EU heads of state and government met in Brussels for a special meeting of the European Council on the situation related to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and response to the global consequences of the war for European and global energy and food security.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States, Britain, EU, Japan, and other powers have imposed and continue to impose sanctions on Russia.