Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Union will introduce a new wave of sanctions against Moscow, piling additional pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, this time targeting the Russian oil sector, additional Russian banks, and persons identified as responsible for spreading disinformation.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell announced on Monday that the European Commission is aiming to pass the sixth round of sanctions at the next Foreign Affairs Council meeting. On Tuesday, he offered more clarifications as to what the latest wave of sanctions should entail.
“We are working on the sixth package of sanctions which aims to de-SWIFT more banks, list disinformation actors and tackle oil imports,” said Borrell in a tweet on Tuesday.
Citing EU officials Reuters reports that the EC President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to present the proposed new sanctions on Wednesday, seeking approval from the 27 member states, though it could prove to be significantly more difficult to achieve consensus this time.
The Commission’s plan reportedly aims for a total ban on Russian oil import by end of the year, even as two member states emphasise they would oppose any blanket ban on Russian oil. Slovakian Economy Minister Richard Sulik said on Tuesday that the country’s only refining company, Slovnaft, would need years to switch from refining Russian crude oil to other types, and that Bratislava will insist on being exempt from the ban.
Hungary, also hugely dependent on Russian oil imports, also noted that it would not support any sanctions that would make “transfer of natural gas or oil from Russia to Hungary impossible”. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto stressed on Tuesday that “Hungary’s energy supply simply cannot be endangered,” noting that no one can expect “the price of war to be paid by Hungarians.”
While the final sanctions package has yet to be approved and passed, an increasing number of EU officials fear the Commission would either have to grant exemptions for Hungary and Slovakia, or would have to abandon the idea of oil import ban altogether.