EU Commission chief proposes oil embargo on Russia

The European Commission chief on Wednesday proposed an oil embargo on Russia as she presented the details of the bloc’s sixth sanctions package targeting Moscow for the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France, Ursula von der Leyen said that the commission proposes “a complete import ban on all Russian oil seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”

After adoption, the ban on crude oil would enter into force six months later, and prohibit refined oil products by the end of the year.

She admitted that the sanctions would hit hard EU member states that are strongly dependent on Russian oil, but she stressed that “we simply have to do it.”

According to von der Leyen, the sanctions will “maximize the pressure on Russia” and the delay would give a chance for the bloc to “minimize the collateral damage.”

The new sanctions would also target “hierarchy military officers and individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha and those who are responsible for the insurance siege of the city of Mariupol,” she said.

“This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin. We know who you are, we will hold you accountable. You’re not getting away with this,” von der Leyen asserted.

The package would also extend the list of Russian banks that are excluded from the SWIFT international payment system, including Russia’s largest bank Sberbank.

The proposed measures also include a ban on three state-owned broadcasters that are “mouthpieces amplifying (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively”, according to the European Commission.

The bloc also mulls prohibiting all accounting and lobbying services for Russian companies as part the new set of sanctions.

Von der Leyen stressed that “Putin must pay a high price for his brutal aggression” against Ukraine.

“That it is the international law that counts and not the right of might,” she added.

The measures have yet to be adopted by EU member states that have been divided for a long time on cutting Russian energy imports.

In March, the European Commission revealed a plan to reduce dependence on Russian energy and to cut gas import by two-thirds by the end of this year, by replacing it with other sources from East Africa and the US, and accelerating the transition to green energy.

The EU has allocated €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) in military support to Ukrainians and adopted five packages of sanctions since the war began on Feb. 24.

The restrictive measures target individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, oligarchs, and military officers.

The EU has also banned the export of luxury goods, and the imports of coal, and excluded Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT international banking system.

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