European Union leaders have agreed a compromise plan to block more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports after Hungary opposed a total ban.
European Council chief Charles Michel said the deal cut off “a huge source of financing” for the Russian war machine.
He added that it put “maximum pressure on Russia to end the war”.
The ban is part of a sixth package of sanctions approved at a summit in Brussels, which all 27 member states had to agree on.
Mr Michel said the EU had also agreed hard-hitting measures targeting Russia’s largest bank and three state-owned broadcasters.
EU members spent hours struggling to resolve their differences over the ban on Russian oil imports, with Hungary its main opponent.
The ban on Russian oil imports was initially proposed by the European Commission – which develops laws for member states – a month ago.
But resistance, notably from Hungary, held up the EU’s troubled latest round of sanctions.
Other landlocked countries, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic, also asked for more time due to their dependence on Russian oil. Bulgaria, already cut off from Russian gas by Gazprom, had likewise sought opt-outs.
The cost of living crisis being felt across Europe has not helped either. Sky-rocketing energy prices – among other things – have curtailed some EU countries’ appetite for sanctions which could also hurt their own economies.
Earlier, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had said her expectations were “low” that a deal would be reached, while Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the EU to stop quarrelling.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban maintained a tough stance during the talks, blaming the European Commission for failing to properly negotiate the ban with member countries.
He said that energy was a “serious issue” and that “we need solutions and then the sanctions”.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who dialled into the summit, urged EU countries to stop their internal “quarrels,” stating that they only helped Moscow.
“All quarrels in Europe must end, internal disputes that only encourage Russia to put more and more pressure on you,” Mr Zelensky said via video-link.
“It is time for you to be not separate, not fragments, but one whole,” he said.
Latvia’s Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said member countries should not get “bogged down” in their own personal interests.
“It’s going to cost us more. But it’s only money. The Ukrainians are paying with their lives,” he said.
In other developments:
- There is fierce fighting in Ukraine’s east, focused around the city of Severdonetsk
- According to the regional governor Serhyi Haidai, the “situation is very difficult” with no water, gas or electricity supplies in the city
- French journalist, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, was killed covering an evacuation operation for broadcaster BFMTV near the city
- Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told French TV channel TF1 that the “liberation” of the eastern region known as the Donbas was an “unconditional priority” for Russia
- Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in a bid to reclaim land taken by Russia around the southern city of Kherson, according to Ukraine’s military
- The US said it will not send weapons to Ukraine that can hit targets inside Russia, President Joe Biden said
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