The European Union proposed a complete ban on Russian oil imports by the end of the year, its strongest response yet to the invasion of Ukraine and a move expected to push up prices.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen detailed the new sanctions proposal Wednesday during a speech to the European Parliament, which she said will phase out all Russian crude oil imports within six months, and all refined oil imports by the end of 2022. Oil prices rose following the announcement.
“Let's be clear: It will not be easy,” von der Leyen said. “But we simply have to work on it. We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, to maximize pressure on Russia, while minimizing the impact on our own economies."
The proposal will now be circulated to EU member states to discuss and eventually vote on the new measures.
EU MOVES TO ADOPT PHASED-IN RUSSIAN OIL BAN
But Slovakia and Hungary threatened to veto the sanctions plan earlier this week if it included a phased-in oil ban, posing a hurdle for the bloc since any sanctions require approval from all 27 member countries.
"We do not see any plans or guarantees on how a transition could be managed based on the current proposals and how Hungary's energy security would be guaranteed," Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
And Slovak Economy Minister Richard Sulik noted that Slovakia’s single oil refiner cannot immediately switch from importing Russian crude oil to another supply, telling reporters Tuesday that doing so would take “several years.”
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“So, we will insist on the exemption, for sure,” Sulik said.