Conflicts & War

Consensus on Russian energy embargo elusive as EU ministers meet

Brussels, May 2 (EFE).- European Union environment ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss ways to wean the bloc off supplies of Russian gas and oil amid low prospects of a consensus being reached.

The European Commission has proposed a total ban on Russian oil and gas as part of its next raft of sanctions against the Kremlin over its war in Ukraine.

European imports of Russian energy supplies provide Moscow with billions of euros in revenue, helping fund its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary, which has avoided openly criticizing Russia since the war began in February, has already said it would not support an embargo of Russian oil and gas.

The Polish government called on member states to move from “words” to “deeds”, calling for “immediate sanctions against Russian oil and gas.

“It is the next, urgent and absolutely necessary step that must be taken into account in the following sanctions,” Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa told reporters ahead of the extraordinary meeting with EU energy ministers.

“We already have coal, now it’s time for oil and the next step is gas. The best option is for them to go together,” said Moskwa, whose country last week saw its supplies of Russian gas cut off for refusing to pay in rubles.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson avoided confirming whether the new set of retaliatory measures against Moscow for its war in Ukraine would include Russian crude, but she did say that the issue would be discussed on Tuesday by the European Commission and that the president, Ursula von der Leyen, would provide “additional information” on the matter.

Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler said that her country was ready to join an oil embargo against Russia as long as the decision was taken jointly by the EU-27.

“Austria is ready to support an oil embargo consistently if the Commission and the member states so decide. We are ready, I can say that,” she said.

Upon his arrival on Monday for the emergency summit, Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck acknowledged there was no consensus among the EU’s 27 members on how to reduce supplies of Russian energy.

Replying to a question about a potential oil embargo, Habeck said: “Other countries aren’t there yet, and I think that needs to be respected. In the case of gas, for example, we would not be ready either.”

Before the war, Germany imported more than half of its gas supplies from Russia, although it has dropped by 20% in response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.EFE


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