EU Leaders Agree On Partial Embargo Of Russian Oil After Zelenskiy Urges Them To Show Strength

The 27 EU member states have agreed a new sanctions package that immediately cuts more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports to the bloc, European Council President Charles Michel said on May 30.
EU Leaders Agree On Partial Embargo Of Russian Oil After Zelenskiy Urges Them To Show Strength
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the EU leaders from Kyiv on May 30.RFE/RL

The 27 EU member states have agreed a new sanctions package that immediately cuts more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports to the bloc, European Council President Charles Michel said on May 30.

The embargo covers only Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline.

But Michel said the compromise agreement, reached during a summit in Brussels, cuts "a huge source of financing for its war machine."

The leaders also agreed to cut off the largest Russian bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT messaging system, ban three more Russian state-owned broadcasters, and sanctions against individuals responsible for war crimes, Michel said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy earlier told EU leaders that their sixth package of sanctions must be agreed and must include oil, “so that Russia feels the price for what it is doing against Ukraine and the whole of Europe, and so that you finally become independent of Russia's energy weapons.”

He urged the EU leaders to show strength as they worked toward adopting the new sanctions, saying internal "quarrels" only benefit Moscow.

"Europe needs to show strength because Russia only sees strength as an argument," Zelenskiy said on May 30 in a speech to the EU summit intended to reinforce the bloc's support for Ukraine in its battle to defend itself against invading Russian forces.

In a video message to the European Union leaders, he said it was time for the EU not to be fragmented but "one whole," calling for a new set of sanctions against Russia, including a ban on Russian oil.

A draft of the summit's conclusions, obtained earlier by RFE/RL, said the EU "resolutely condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine" and urges Russia "to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."

It also welcomes the establishment with Kyiv of a joint team tasked with investigating war crimes carried out in Ukraine, vowing that "Russia, Belarus and all those responsible will be held to account for their actions in accordance with international law."

The draft statement also says that the European Union is prepared to grant up to 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion) to support Ukraine, and notes the need for "comprehensive support to rebuild the country for the future."

The European Union "also remains committed to continue bolstering Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty," according to the draft document, and "welcomes the adoption of the recent decision of the [European] Council to increase military support to Ukraine."

RFE/RL also obtained draft revisions to an amendment to the European Council's regulations regarding restrictive measures put in place due to Russia's war against Ukraine. That document specified that import prohibitions should not apply for "several member states" that are dependent on Russian crude oil transported by pipeline, but that those states should take all necessary measures to obtain alternative supplies.

The revised regulations also said that Bulgaria, due to its "geographical exposure," would be granted a "special derogation from the prohibition on imports of seaborne crude oil and petroleum products" from Russia "for a limited period."

Croatia, according to the draft regulations, would receive an exemption for the purchase of Russian supplies of vacuum gas oil "under certain conditions" that were not specified.

Hungary, which gets 65 percent of its oil supplies through the Druzhba pipeline running from Russia to Eastern and Central Europe, was reportedly initially open to the idea of a temporary exemption but had demanded further concessions.

The draft statement "resolutely condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine" and urges Moscow "to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."

It also welcomes the establishment with Kyiv of a joint team tasked with investigating war crimes carried out in Ukraine, vowing that "Russia, Belarus and all those responsible will be held to account for their actions in accordance with international law."

The draft statement also says that the European Union is prepared to grant up to 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion) to support Ukraine, and notes the need for "comprehensive support to rebuild the country for the future."

The European Union "also remains committed to continue bolstering Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty," according to the draft document, and "welcomes the adoption of the recent decision of the [European] Council to increase military support to Ukraine."

(AS/RFE-RL)

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