On Wednesday, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, imposed new sanctions on the Kremlin that include a phased cancellation of Russian crude imports for a period of six months.
Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and evidence of war crimes, prompted the European Union to take bolder steps on energy sanctions. But imposing measures that could reduce or completely cut off Russian energy supplies to the European Union has been a complex task for the bloc.
This is because the region is dependent on Russia for many energy sources, including oil. In 2020, Russian oil imports accounted for about 25% of crude mass purchases, according to District Statistics Office.
“Let us be clear: it will not be easy,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a speech in the European Parliament on Wednesday.
“Some member states are very dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it. We are now proposing a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete ban on the import of Russian oil, seaborne and pipelined, crude and refined.”
The Russian oil embargo has been a highly controversial topic within the European Union, but the move gained more momentum after Germany backed the idea. However, two EU countries – Slovakia and Hungary, both of which are highly dependent on Russian energy – are demanding exemptions.
Von der Leyen chose not to give any details about the exemptions during her speech, but two EU officials, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, told CNBC that the commission’s proposal includes flexibility. This means that Hungary and Slovakia will likely have a longer period of time to phase out Russian oil.
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