EU state warns of downside to Russian oil embargo

Austria’s energy minister says the ban presents “a great challenge,” but was a necessary decision
EU state warns of downside to Russian oil embargo

The European Union ban on Russian oil will not be “a walk in the park,” but it was a “right and necessary” decision, Austrian energy minister Leonore Gewessler insisted on Tuesday as EU member countries agreed a sixth round of anti-Russia sanctions.

Since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine in late February, the EU has imposed a series of major sanctions on Moscow. The sixth package includes a partial ban on Russian oil. Some EU member states, such as Hungary and Bulgaria, will be given a waiver, but most import routes will be blocked. The decision, which provides a temporary exemption in respect of pipeline oil, will affect around 75% of the bloc’s Russian crude.

The Austrian minister wrote on Twitter that the ban was “an important step” which would make the EU “more independent and resilient.” Gewessler also stressed that, over the past few months, Austria has not been importing Russian oil and had “prepared well” for the oil embargo.

It is clear to all of us that this is a feat of strength and a great challenge. This decision will certainly not be a walk in the park, but it is right and necessary,” the minister wrote.

EU reaches agreement on Russian oil

The restrictions are expected to be formally passed on Wednesday. According to media reports, the package also excludes Sber, Russia’s largest bank, from the SWIFT financial messaging system. It also bans three more Russian broadcasters from the EU, and imposes further individual sanctions on certain Russian citizens.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on Tuesday called for the bloc to discuss a gas embargo as part of the next package, but admitted that this was unlikely. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer confirmed that gas would “not be discussed in the next sanctions package.” Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called for a “pause” in adopting anti-Russia sanctions until the impact of existing measures is known.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously accused European leaders of committing economic “suicide” by attempting to give up Russian energy.

Moscow considers the sanctions “unlawful” and “unjustified,” and has been retaliating with its own countermeasures. It has insisted that payments for natural gas supplies from nations that impose sanctions must be made in rubles.

Original Article