European Union unveils plan to ban all Russian oil imports by end of year



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uropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on the bloc to ban oil imports from Russia by the end of the year in a sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Mrs Von der Leyen, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, called on the EU’s member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

“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 minimises the impact on global markets,” Mrs von der Leyen said.

The proposals need to be unanimously approved by the EU’s 27 members to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate. Germany, which is heavily reliant on Russian energy, has been hesitant to impose a ban over economic fears while Hungary has voiced its opposition to the move.

She conceded that getting all 27 member countries – some of them landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies – to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy”.

Elsewhere, Mrs von der Leyen said that Russia’s largest bank Sberbank would be disconnected from the SWIFT banking system as part of the new package of sanctions.

She also confirmed that three unnamed state-owned Russian broadcasters will be cut off from the EU on cable, satellite and the internet, accusing them of being “mouthpieces of the state”.

“We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies,” she added.

A number of high-ranking Russian officials will also face EU asset freezes and travel bans, Mrs von der Leyen said. “You are not getting away with this,” she said, referring to the Kremlin.

There was no indication as to whether Hungary or Slovakia would be granted an exemption to the bloc’s proposed oil embargo. Both countries are heavily dependent on Russian crude.

An EU official told Reuters on Tuesday that the EU could grant “an exemption or a long transition period” to the two countries to minimise economic damage.

In other developments, a convoy of buses left the besieged city of Mariupol on Wednesday in a fresh evacuation attempt by Ukraine, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The buses were heading for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

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