EU chief proposes phased ban on Russian oil
European Union countries will stop importing Russian oil and refined products by the end of the year, Ursula von der Leyen has told the European Parliament.
The European Commission President announced a sixth round of sanctions against Russia for waging war on Ukraine and pledged to minimise the impact on European economies.
The plan, if agreed by EU governments, would mark a watershed for the world’s largest trading bloc, which is dependent on Russian energy and must find alternative supplies.
“We will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year,” she said, prompting applause from MEPs.
“This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.
“It will not be easy. Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin must pay a price, a high price, for his brutal aggression.”
The proposals by the commission now need to go to the 27 member states for approval.
Diplomats said there was likely to be a longer period granted to Hungary and Slovakia to stop oil imports as they are so heavily dependent on Russian energy.
The EU will also ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters as part of the latest sanctions package.
“They will not be allowed to distribute their content anymore in the European Union, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps,” Ms von der Leyen said.
She called the TV channels “mouthpieces that amplify (President) Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively”.
“We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies,” she added.
It has also been reported that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is among those sanctioned.
The new list includes 58 individuals, including many Russian military personnel, but also the wife, daughter and son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“You are not getting away with this,” Ms von der Leyen said, referring to the Kremlin.
MEPs heard the commission was proposing a recovery package for Ukraine to help it rebuild after the war.
“This package should bring massive investment to meet the needs and the necessary reforms.
“Eventually, it will pave the way for Ukraine’s future inside the European Union,” she said.
The EU chief also said the commission would ask that the bloc’s 27 member states to deny Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, access to SWIFT, the global banking communications system.