EU takes sanctions aim at Russia fossil fuel exports

Agence France-Presse
EU takes sanctions aim at Russia fossil fuel exports
(FILES) This handout file picture taken and released by Maxar satelitte image on March 29, 2022 shows the aftermath of the airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater, in Mariupol southern Ukraine. Two women that survived the Russian airstrike on a theatre sheltering civilians in Ukraine's battered city of Mariupol earlier this month told AFP about the "horror" they endured. Viktoria Dubovytskaya was inside the Mariupol drama theatre when it was hit on March 16. Maria Kutnyakova -- who left the theatre to get water the day of the shelling -- witnessed the strike from outside, while her mother and sister were still in the building.

STRASBOURG, France — EU leaders on Wednesday said the bloc will soon have to sanction all of Russia's hydrocarbon exports as they blamed Moscow for "war crimes" discovered in Ukraine, especially in the town of Bucha.

The declarations, made to the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, came as the European Union was poised to implement a fifth round of sanctions cutting off Russian coal imports, while NATO and G7 foreign ministers gathered in Brussels for further steps on coordinated action.

The EU must also impose oil and gas sanctions on Russia "sooner or later", European Council chief Charles Michel told MEPs.

The deaths of civilians in Bucha and other parts of Ukraine were "war crimes" and "yet more proof that Russian brutality against the people of Ukraine has no limits," he said.

"We the EU, we will not turn our backs. We will look reality straight in the eye. There must be, and there will be, severe consequences for all those responsible," he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen echoed that, saying: "We will hold accountable those who are responsible for war crimes. The perpetrators must pay after Bucha more than ever."

She said the EU intended to keep ramping up "smart" sanctions that would hurt Russia more than the European Union.

The latest package of measures, she said, "will not be our last sanctions".

"Yes, we've now banned coal. But now we have to look into oil. And we'll have to look into the revenues that Russia gets from the fossil fuels," she said.

Russia's oil, gas and coal exports are its key sources of foreign income, with the EU its main customer.

Some EU countries, notably Germany, have been reluctant to hit Russian energy exports because of the damage it would do to their own economies.

But pressure has been building to go after them following the reports of mass civilian deaths in Bucha and other areas in Ukraine formerly held by Russian troops.

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stressed to the European Parliament that the bloc's payments for Russian fossil fuels were funding President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

"A billion euros ($1.1 billion) is what we have paid Putin every day for the energy he provides us since the beginning of the war. We have given him 35 billion euros," since the February 24 invasion date, Borrell said.

"Compare that to the one billion (euros) that we have given to the Ukraine in arms and weapons. 

"This gigantic difference has to highlight the importance and need of implementing what the (European) Council asked to do -- we have to reduce energy dependence." — Anne-Laure Mondesert / AFP







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