EU Ministers Meet to Discuss Further Russian Sanctions

Photo credit: AP

After four rounds of sweeping European Union sanctions against Russia have been established in the past three weeks, tensions are emerging between member states on how to impose further sanctions. Tension is rising between countries as leaders work to determine how far the bloc will go to impose further sanctions on Russia. 

EU foreign ministers gathered in Brussels today to discuss sanctions at the start of what will be a very intense week of diplomacy. As the ministers gathered, Ukraine defied a Russian ultimatum to surrender the southern port city Mariupol. 

Lithuania is asking the EU to ban Russian oil. Baltic states and Poland want tougher measures, including an oil embargo. But Germany fears a short-term energy ban would create joblessness and also fuel shortages. 

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that it was unavoidable to start talking about the energy sector, including oil and dependence on Russian oil, which as Landsbergis said, is a massive revenue stream to Russia. He said this was very easily replaceable for the EU. 

The EU imports 27 percent of its oil from Russia. So far, it has not yet joined the US and UK in an oil embargo. 

Germany is the most dependent on Russian energy. More than half of its natural gas and coal comes from Russia, at 55 percent and 52 percent respectively, and 34 percent of its mineral oil also comes from Russia. 

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the EU to stop all trade with Russia, saying, “no euros for the occupiers.” He addressed Germany directly even, saying that the country has the strength, and Europe has the strength, to go harder on sanctions. 

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the EU will continue to discuss further sanctions, especially over energy and oil, as he strictly condemned Russia’s bombings of civilians in Mariupol. The city has been under siege for about a month. Borrell said it was a “massive war crime.” 

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