The European Commission proposes a gradual embargo on Russian oil and the exclusion of the largest Russian bank from Swift.
Brussels proposes to stop European imports of Russian oil within six months and to exclude the largest Russian bank, Sberbank, from the international financial system Swift, announced on Wednesday the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
“We will phase out Russian deliveries of crude oil within six months and of refined products by the end of the year,” as part of a sixth sanctions package against Moscow aimed at cutting off funding for war against Ukraine, she told MEPs in Strasbourg.
“It will be a complete ban on imports of all Russian oil, transported by sea or by pipeline, crude and refined … in an orderly fashion, in a way that will allow us to put in place ‘other routes of supply,’ she explained.
Russian oil accounts for around a quarter of EU oil imports.
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According to several European officials and diplomats, the Commission’s draft – submitted overnight to the Member States – provides for an exemption for Hungary and Slovakia. These two countries, landlocked and totally dependent on deliveries by the Druzhba pipeline, will be able to continue their purchases from Russia in 2023, said one of these officials.
“It will not be easy. Some states are heavily dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it,” pleaded Ursula von der Leyen, before the European Parliament. “We will thus exert maximum pressure on Russia, while minimizing collateral damage for us and our partners,” she said.
“This will reinforce the total isolation of the Russian financial sector”
Brussels is also proposing to exclude three additional Russian banks, including Sberbank, by far the largest institution in the country (about a third of the banking sector), from the Swift international financial system.
As part of the EU sanctions, seven Russian institutions were deprived of access to Swift, a secure messaging platform allowing crucial operations such as the transit of payment orders and funds transfer orders between banks.
“We are hitting systemically important banks critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s capacity for destruction. This will reinforce the total isolation of the Russian financial sector,” von der Leyen stressed.
The Commission is also proposing to block access to the European airwaves to three major Russian state broadcasters, which would be prohibited from distributing their content in the EU by cable, satellite, internet or smartphone applications.
“We have identified the role of propaganda organs of these TV channels, which aggressively amplify Putin’s lies. We must no longer give them free rein to spread them,” von der Leyen said. without further details.