A "real embargo" on Russian oil could end the war in Ukraine in a matter of months, the BBC has reported, citing a former chief economic adviser to President Putin.
According to Andrei Ilarionov, who resigned in 2005, if the West "would try to implement a real embargo on oil and gas exports from Russia... I would bet that probably within a month or two, Russian military operations in Ukraine, probably will be ceased, will be stopped".
"It's one of the very effective instruments still in the possession of the Western countries," the former Kremlin official also said.
Illarionov was also openly critical of the Russian government, saying that President Putin's "territorial ambitions, his imperial ambitions, are much more important than anything else, including the livelihood of the Russian population and of the financial situation in the country... even the financial state of the his government."
The European Union has been discussing an oil embargo on Russia but has stopped short of imposing one because of its heavy dependence on the commodity, not to mention natural gas where the dependence is a lot heavier.
Even so, officials in Brussels continue to discuss an oil embargo and, according to a Reuters report from Monday, it could become part of the next sanctions package, even though for some member states, such an embargo would constitute an "asymmetric shock".
While the discussions are ongoing, OPEC poured cold water on EU hopes for a quick replacement of Russian oil. Per another report by Reuters, the oil-producing cartel has told the EU it would not be able to fill the gap left by Russian barrels lost to an EU embargo.
"We could potentially see the loss of more than 7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil and other liquids exports, resulting from current and future sanctions or other voluntary actions," the group's chief, Mohammad Barkindo, said in a speech seen by Reuters.
"Considering the current demand outlook, it would be nearly impossible to replace a loss in volumes of this magnitude," Barkindo added.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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