Strasbourg, France, May 4 (EFE).- The European Union should gradually phase out all imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of a sixth package of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
The president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, warned the process would not “be easy” as several member states “are strongly dependent on Russian oil.”
“But we simply have to work on it. We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” she told a plenary meeting at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.
“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets,” von der Leyen added.
She proposed a gradual end to Russian oil imports starting with crude within the next six months and expanding to refined oil by the end of 2022.
The proposed oil ban follows the EU’s decision to end imports of Russian coal, a sanction that has been put in place.
In 2021, the EU spent 74 billion euros ($80bm) on Russian oil, the bloc’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell has said.
Hungary and Slovakia, both heavily dependent on Russian oil supplies, could be exempt from the proposed time frame, according to media reports citing EU sources.
The EU’s sixth tranche of sanctions includes a proposal to name perpetrators of war crimes in Bucha and those responsible for the “inhuman” siege of Mariupol and to bring them to account.
More than 1,200 civilian bodies were discovered in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region while the siege of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, has been in force since the early days of the invasion and left over 10,000 inhabitants without water, electricity and basic necessities.
“This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin’s war: We know who you are, and you will be held accountable,” von der Leyen said.
The Commission chief also proposed removing Russia’s Sberbank, which accounts for roughly a third of the country’s assets, from the financial transaction service SWIFT. EFE