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Germany, the main opponent of a full embargo on Russian oil imports into the European Union so far, has dropped its opposition to a ban, if given time to procure alternatives, government officials told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The EU started earlier this month tentative discussions on imposing an embargo on Russian oil, but the bloc was split on a ban on Russian energy imports. The biggest European economy—Germany—resisted an immediate oil embargo, saying an oil ban would plunge Germany, and Europe, into a deep recession. Germany, Hungary, and Austria, as well as some other EU members, opposed an immediate outright ban on Russian oil, although Germany signaled earlier this month that it could end its dependence on Russian oil and stop importing Moscow’s oil entirely by the end of this year.
In a major shift in position, German representatives to the EU signaled on Wednesday that Germany is dropping its opposition to a full embargo on Russian oil on the condition that it is given time to find a replacement to the Russian oil supply, the Journal reported, citing two officials.
The German policy shift comes after the government announced it would send heavy weaponry to Ukraine for the first time, after weeks of pressure on Berlin to provide military assistance to Kyiv.
The shift in Germany’s position on a Russian oil embargo could encourage other still hesitant EU members to support a ban on Russian oil imports, analysts say.
Earlier this week, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that a full embargo is now “manageable” for Germany and that the country hoped to find a replacement for Russian oil within days. According to Habeck, Germany is now “very, very close” to making a full Russian oil embargo a reality.
Germany has dropped Russian oil imports to around 12% of its total oil imports, down from 35% prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.