The European Union is proposing to ban oil imports from Russia and remove the country’s largest bank from the SWIFT international payments network as part of a sixth round of sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the new package of measures during a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday.
“Now we propose a ban on Russian oil,” he said. “Let’s be clear: it will not be easy. But we just have to work at it. We will ensure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly manner, to maximize the pressure on Russia and minimize the impact on our own economies.”
News of the proposal, which still needs approval from all EU member states, boosted crude prices. Brent futures, the global benchmark, rose 2.4% to $107 a barrel, while US oil futures rose 2.7% to $105 a barrel at 3 :30 a.m. (Eastern time).
Oil prices have already risen about 40% since the beginning of the year on fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause a supply shock, fueling inflation and piling pressure on European economies.
EU countries have already agreed to phase out Russian coal imports, but the bloc has found it much more difficult to reach a consensus on oil sanctions despite weeks of talks. Hungary recently reiterated its opposition to the oil embargo, and Slovakia is reportedly seeking an exemption.
Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of crude oil and last year accounted for about 27% of the EU’s oil imports. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia have already banned imports of Russian oil.
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