The European Union (EU) launched this Wednesday the proposal to gradually block its oil imports from Russiapresenting his sixth package of sanctions against Moscow for the war in Ukraine.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen outlined before the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, the new package of sanctions -negotiated with the countries of the bloc-, and assured that it sends a message to the promoters of the war: “We know who they are, and we will hold them responsible”.

The central node of the new package presented by the European Union It is the explicit decision of apply an embargo on oil imports from Russia.

“We are going to progressively renounce Russian deliveries of oil over a period of six months and those of crude oil products between now and the end of the year”said Von der Leyen.

The official admitted that The task will not be easy”. “Some member states [de la Unión Europea] heavily dependent on Russian oil. But we have to work on this,” he added.

The intention, he added, is for the ban to include all Russian oil “transported by sea and by pipeline, crude and refined.”

Diplomatic sources in Brussels confided to AFP that the proposal was circulated to member countries shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

The package must be unanimously approved by the Member States so that it can be implementedand according to a diplomatic source, the list of people and entities to be sanctioned could be modified.

Sensitive issue

The suspension of European imports of Russian oil is an extremely sensitive matter since several countries in the bloc are highly dependent on crude oil from Russia to keep their industries running.

Thus, Von der Leyen assured that the cessation of imports will be done “in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimize the impact on global markets.”

Internal documents to which AFP had access confirm that the proposal is to adopt an exception until 2023 for Hungary and Slovakia, two countries that depend almost entirely on Russian crude.

Shortly after von der Leyen’s speech, however, the Hungarian government lamented the absence of “guarantees” for its energy security.

“We do not see any plan or guarantee how even a transition could be managed based on the current proposals, and how it could guarantee Hungary’s energy security,” the government press office said in a message to AFP.

European countries pledged at a Versailles summit in March to gradually wean themselves off their dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal.

Russia supplied in 2021 approximately 30% of the crude oil and 15% of the oil derivatives purchased by the European Union.

In addition, the documents consulted by AFP reveal a long list of personalities and Russian soldiers to be included among those sanctioned by the European Union.

The list includes the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, as well as their family.

Von der Leyen also advanced before Parliament that the European Union proposes to exclude the largest bank in Russia, Sberbank of the SWIFT interbank network.

Hitting “banks of essential systemic importance to the Russian financial system” will reinforce that country’s “total isolation” and weaken its ability to finance the war in Ukraine, he said.

By force of EU sanctions, seven other Russian financial entities have already been excluded from the SWIFT system, an interbank messaging mechanism that allows international wire and payment orders.

A study carried out by a think tank in Finland states that since the start of the war in Ukraine, European imports of gas, oil and coal from Russia amount to 44 billion euros (more than 46 billion dollars).

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