EU proposes Russian oil ban and other sanctions – New Delhi Times

EU mulls sanctions: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her speech during a debate on the social and economic consequences for the EU due to the Russian war in Ukraine, on May 4 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union’s (EU) top official called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia and target its biggest bank and major broadcasters in a sixth package of sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Leyen proposed EU member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

Oil import ban: “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,” Leyen said. The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and could face fierce debate. Consensus difficult: Leyen was aware that getting all 27 member countries to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy”.

The reasons are obvious. The EU gets 25 per cent of its oil from Russia, mostly as gasoline and diesel for vehicles including 14pc of diesel. The prices are already high and sanctions cutoff could send truck and tractor fuel prices towering.

Some EU nations are landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for their energy needs. If the EU parliament approves the ban on oil imports, it would be the second package of EU sanctions targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. Various entities and individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of his family are already sanctioned.

Additionally, the EU had previously approved an embargo on coal imports. Countries are not on same page: The EU has started discussions on natural gas embargo. The region gets from Russia about 40pc of its natural gas which generates electricity and heat homes.

Denial of gas starves European public of minimal comfort, hence the difficulty in securing consensus among member countries on sanctioning the fuel. Hungary and Slovakia have already said they wouldn’t take part in any oil sanctions. Leyen didn’t elaborate on any exemptions for those countries from the sanctions, but it seems likely.

The EU and Russia are playing “a game of chicken” and it is not known who will blink first. The Russians may fear running out of money. Europe may fear the lights going out.

Leyen urged to target high-ranking Russian military officers and others “who committed war crimes in Bucha,” a suburb of the capital Kyiv. Ukraine has alleged that retreating Russian troops carried out mass killings of civilians in Bucha. “This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin’s war: We know who you are. We will hold you accountable.

You’re not getting away with this,” Leyen told the parliamentarians. Asset freeze and travel ban: The European Commission’s plans include an asset freeze and travel ban on the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Kirill is a longtime Putin ally and has justified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In March, he described the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks. Leyen said that Putin’s intention is “to wipe out Ukraine from the map,” but predicted he will fail in his deadly enterprise. “Ukraine has risen in bravery and in unity,” she said. “And it is his own country, Russia that Putin is sinking.” de-SWIFTing Sberbank:  Banks, especially Russia’s biggest Sberbank, are also on the EU radar.

SWIFT is the major global system for financial transfers. Leyen declared to “de-SWIFT Sberbank,” and two other major banks in Russia.  By that, EU will hit banks that are systemically critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to wage destruction. Ban on Broadcasters: Leyen aimed to target those spreading disinformation about the Ukraine war.

She proposed ban on three big Russian state-owned broadcasters from Europe’s airwaves by blocking distribution of their content in the EU in any shape or form– via cable, satellite, internet or smartphone apps. Leyen didn’t name the broadcasters but branded the television channels “as mouthpieces that amplify Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively. We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies.”

The world eagerly awaited military intervention from the West–NATO and America–in Ukraine’s favour but got disillusioned. Now America and the EU fall over each other to slap sanction to hide their guilt. And the international community is not impressed.

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Photo Credit : AP Photo

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