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EUR banned EU proposes to ban all Russian oil imports in new sanctions over war in Ukraine

"This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined."

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EU to ban Russian oil. Photo: Bloomberg

EU to ban Russian oil. Photo: Bloomberg

EU to ban Russian oil. Photo: Bloomberg

European Union countries will stop importing Russian oil and refined products, the head of the bloc's executive European Commission said on Wednesday in proposing a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow for waging a war on Ukraine.

"We will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year," Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament, prompting applause from lawmakers.

"This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined."

"It will not be easy. Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it," von der Leyen said of the proposal, which requires approval from all 27 EU countries to take effect.

The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate.

Ms von der Leyen conceded that getting all 27 member countries – some of them landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies – to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy”.

If approved, the ban on oil imports will be the second package of EU sanctions targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin started on February 24.

In addition to sanctions on various entities and individuals – including Mr Putin himself and members of his family – the bloc previously approved an embargo on coal imports.

The EU has started discussions on a possible natural gas embargo, but consensus among member countries on targeting the fuel used to generate electricity and heat homes is more difficult to secure.

Hungary and Slovakia have already said they would not take part in any oil sanctions, but Ms von der Leyen did not elaborate on whether they would receive an exemption from the sanctions, although this appears likely.

Ms von der Leyen also said that the EU should target high-ranking military officers and others “who committed war crimes in Bucha”, a suburb of the capital Kyiv. Ukrainian officials have alleged that retreating Russian troops carried out mass killings of civilians in Bucha.

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“This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin’s war: We know who you are. We will hold you accountable. You’re not getting away with this,” Ms von der Leyen said.

Banks are also in the EU executive arm’s sights, and notably Sberbank. Ms von der Leyen said the aim is that “we de-Swift Sberbank”. Swift is the major global system for financial transfers.

Ms von der Leyen said Sberbank holds around 37% of the Russian banking sector.

“And we will also de-Swift two other major banks in Russia. By that, we hit banks that are systemically critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to wage destruction,” she said.

Ms Von der Leyen added that those alleged to be spreading disinformation about the war in Ukraine would be targeted.

She said: “We are banning three big Russian state-owned broadcasters from our airwaves. They will not be allowed to distribute their content anymore in the EU, in whatever shape or form be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps.”

She did not name the broadcasters directly, but branded the television channels “as mouthpieces that amplify Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively”, adding: “We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies.”

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