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France sees a potential ban on imports of Russian energy into the EU as an option, its Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said over the weekend, adding that sanctions are hurting Russia and Vladimir Putin.
“Should we in the immediate stop buying Russian oil, should a little bit further down the line we stop importing Russian gas? The president has never ruled out these options,” the French minister told LCI television in an interview on Sunday, as carried by Reuters.
Some Western nations have already banned or committed to phasing out Russian oil imports by the end of this year after Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February.
The United States banned imports of Russian energy, including oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and coal two weeks ago, while the UK announced on the same day that it would phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, in response to Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Russian imports account for 8 percent of total UK oil demand, but the UK is also a significant producer of both crude oil and petroleum products, in addition to imports from a diverse range of reliable suppliers beyond Russia, including the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, its government said.
Moreover, Canada prohibited Russian ships and fishing vessels from entering Canadian ports and internal waters. The UK banned on the same day from its ports any vessels “owned or operated by anyone connected to Russia” and said that authorities would also gain new powers to detain Russian vessels.
However, the European Union and its biggest members, including Germany, have been reluctant so far to ban imports of Russian energy or impose sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports, considering that Europe depends on Russia for more than one-fourth of its oil supply and one-third of its natural gas supply.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com