The European Union has started drafting its proposal for an embargo on Russian oil imports as its latest response to the war in Ukraine, the New York Times reported, citing Brussels officials and diplomats.
The embargo will most likely be introduced in a gradual way, similar to the planned Russian coal embargo, to kick in this August, to give importers time to find alternative suppliers, the report noted.
Ukraine government officials have repeatedly called for a full EU embargo on Russian energy supplies. EU members have discussed direct energy sanctions despite the fact that even indirect sanctions targeting Russia’s financial sector have contributed to higher energy prices in Europe.
Some EU members, notably Hungary, have opposed an energy embargo, arguing that the impact on their economies would be devastating. This is perhaps the reason why Brussels is discussing a phased approach. As for alternative suppliers, OPEC has already said it would not be able to fill the gap left by embargoed Russian supply.
A week ago, the European Parliament joined the pressure campaign, calling for a full ban on Russian oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuel in response to allegations about atrocities committed during what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine.
According to the NYT’s sources, the oil embargo will only be discussed after the second round of presidential elections in France in order to avoid adversely affecting incumbent Emmanuel Macron’s chances of a second term.
“The commission and E.U. members have smartly shied away from defining red lines that would trigger a sanctions response since Russia attacked Ukraine,” Eurasia Group director Emre Peker told the NYT.
“I expect the E.U. will shy away from defining triggers, as continued escalation by Russia in eastern Ukraine and revelations from Bucha and elsewhere continue to drive momentum behind a hardening European stance. Any other major catastrophes that unfold will just add more impetus to the E.U. response,” he added.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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