The European Union is considering proposing a full ban on imports of Russian coal after footage continues to emerge of alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops withdrawing from Ukrainian towns, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing sources with knowledge of the discussions.
The European Commission plans to propose coal to be included in the upcoming round of sanctions against Russia over the atrocities in Ukraine, two EU officials separately told CNBC.
Coal use in the EU had the lowest energy import dependency on Russia in 2020, according to data from the EU’s statistics office Eurostat. Still, Russian coal provided 19 percent of the EU use of solid fossil fuels.
The EU has vowed to slap a new round of sanctions against Russia, following numerous reports and eye-witness accounts of war crimes committed by the Russian army retreating from Ukrainian cities and towns. There is still resistance among some member states—primarily Germany—about directly targeting Russia’s energy exports, but the latest atrocities in Bucha outside Kyiv prompted more calls from within the EU for energy sanctions.
All 27 EU member states must agree to a coal import ban, if it is to be discussed.
On Monday, the European Union condemned the killing of unarmed civilians by Russian forces and vowed a new wave of severe sanctions would follow against Russia in a matter of days, including potential sanctions against Russia’s oil, gas, or coal exports.
Europe—which collectively depends on Russian natural gas and oil for around one-third and one-fourth of its demand, respectively—has refrained from targeting directly Russian energy exports fearing that sanctions or an embargo could lead to a deep recession in the major European economies, including the biggest one, Germany.
Germany has so far been one of the staunchest opponents of an energy embargo on Russia, but after photos of Russian atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns emerged, the mood appears to be shifting even in Berlin.
The EU should discuss a ban on the import of Russian natural gas, Germany’s defense minister Christine Lambrecht was quoted as saying on Sunday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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