Zelensky chides EU for failing to agree on Russian oil import ban

30/5/2022 11:56:00 PM

Zelensky chides EU for failing to agree on Russian oil import ban

Copy to clipboard https://str.Copy to clipboard https://str.Copy to clipboard https://str.LinkedIn BRUSSELS: The EU failed on Sunday (May 29) to agree on an embargo of Russian oil, but diplomats but will still try to make progress ahead of a Monday-Tuesday summit on an exemption for pipeline deliveries to landlocked Central European countries, officials said.

sg/w2Dt BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - EU leaders on Monday (May 30) made clear they would fail to agree on a Russian oil import ban at a summit in Brussels, prompting swift criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who chastised them for being too soft on Moscow.The European Union has rolled out five packages of sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine more than three months ago, demonstrating uncharacteristic speed and unity given the complexity of the measures.EU leaders will meet on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a new sanctions package against Russia, which could also include an oil embargo, and a programme aiming to speed up ending dependence on fossil fuels, including Russian gas.But the lack of agreement on a sixth package - and in particular on an oil ban - exposed a struggle to widen sanctions as the economic risk for Europe grows, because so many countries depend on Russian crude.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the gathering by video link to press the bloc to"kill Russian exports" three months after the invasion of Ukraine.The leaders of the 27 EU countries are set to agree at the two-day summit on the principle of an eventual oil embargo, a draft of their summit conclusions showed.With a view to the summit tomorrow, let's hope it continues like this.But they will leave the hard decisions for later.Slovakia and the Czech Republic have expressed similar concerns.

"There is no compromise for this moment at all," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country has been the main holdout for a deal, said as he arrived for the summit.On Friday, European countries scrambled to reach a deal to embargo seaborne deliveries of Russian oil but allow deliveries by pipeline, a compromise to win over Hungary and unblock new sanctions against Moscow.Budapest has rejected as inadequate a proposal to allow it two years longer than other EU states to wean itself off Russian oil.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who proposed the latest package of sanctions at the start of May, agreed:"We're not there yet." There is broad agreement on the rest of the package, including cutting Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT messaging system, banning Russian broadcasters from the EU and adding people to a list whose assets are frozen.He called for similar unity from other EU states.But Zelensky denounced the lack of EU resolve.Slovakia and the Czech Republic, also supplied by the Druzhba pipeline, accepted exemptions of two and half years, diplomatic sources said."Why are you dependent on Russia, on their pressure, and not vice-versa? Russia must be dependent on you.And when it stands united, it can use that power," Mr Habeck said at the opening of the German Hannover Messe trade fair.Source: Reuters/ec.

Why can Russia still earn almost a billion euros a day by selling energy?" Zelensky asked the EU leaders."Why are terrorist banks still working with Europe and the global financial system? Serious questions," he said.Maritime cargos account for the remaining two thirds.Hungarian demands Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said it was more realistic to expect an agreement on an oil embargo in a few weeks, hopefully at the EU's next summit on June 23-24.Some complained harshly over the lack of a deal."We're forgetting the big picture," Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said.The aim is to break a stalemate that has, since early May, prevented the EU from imposing a sixth round of sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine.

"It's only money.The Ukrainians are paying with their lives." The draft text seen by Reuters - which may still be revised again - would confirm that the sixth package of sanctions will include a ban on seaborne oil imports, with pipeline oil supplied to landlocked Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to be sanctioned at some later point.More On This Topic China in talks with Russia to buy oil for strategic reserves Yet EU ambassadors did not find agreement on the compromise, with one EU official saying a"difficult and complex discussion" failed to bridge disaccord.However, the leaders will task diplomats and ministers to agree how it would work, including by ensuring fair competition between those still getting Russian oil and those cut off.Orban said Hungary would be ready to back a deal"if there are solutions for the Hungarian energy supply security, we haven't got that now".

Hungary receives Russian oil via a pipeline that runs through Ukraine."It might not work, it might work, but I think we have a duty to try," the official said.After initially asking for an exemption for pipelines, it has added new demands and now seeks assurances on supply."Each time there is an issue on the table and technical solutions to resolve it are being offered, new demands are being raised.."To be frank, the question of sanctions will be in the room" when EU leaders meet, the official said..

it's a moving target, impossible to reach a deal that way," one EU diplomat said.One tangible outcome of the summit should be agreement on a package of EU loans worth 9 billion euros (US$9.Last year's bill for Russian oil imports was 80 billion euros, four times greater than it was for gas in 2021.7 billion), with a small component of grants to cover part of the interest, for Ukraine to keep its government going and pay wages for about two months.Leaders will also back the creation of an international fund to rebuild Ukraine after the war, with details to be decided later.The leaders will also pledge to accelerate work to help Ukraine move its grain out of the country to global buyers via rail and truck as the Russian navy is blocking the usual sea routes.

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