Friday, December 8

Brussels proposes total embargo on Russian oil in six months

The proposal is now firm and official. The European Comission has sent to the 27 Member States the proposal for sixth round of sanctions against Russia which includes the oil import ban to the European Union, the disconnection of the banking entity Sberbank -the largest Russian financial institution controlled by the Kremlin- ​​of the Swift payment communication system, as well as the expansion of the list of individuals whose assets in the EU will be frozen and will not be able to enter community territory, with the addition of new senior military officials of the regime and other individuals involved in the Bucha massacre and the siege of Mariupol.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has presented this Wednesday before the plenary session of the European Parliament the content of the sixth package that, to be approved, will now need the unanimity of the Twenty-seven. As expected, it includes measures to end dependence on Russian oil, which sends 27% of what the club consumes to the EU, and end the daily millionaire payment that the Kremlin receives and uses to finance the war. in Ukraine. “Let’s be clear, it won’t be easy. Some Member States are highly dependent on Russian oil. But we just have to do it. So today we propose a ban on Russian oil. will be a total ban on imports of all Russian oilmaritime and by pipeline, crude and refined”, he announced.

As with Russian coal, sanctioned at the beginning of April and which will be prohibited from August, the embargo on oil imports will be made “in orderly and gradual way to “secure alternative supply routes and minimize the impact on global markets.” As von der Leyen specified, the proposal includes a six-month phase-out for supply of crude and by the end of the year for refined products. “In this way, we maximize the pressure on Russia, while minimizing the collateral damage for us and our partners around the world because to help Ukraine we have to ensure that our economy remains strong,” von der Leyen explained. has detailed the exceptions envisaged to respond to the concerns of Hungary or Slovakia, given its dependence on Russian crude. According to the agency Reutersboth countries will enjoy a longer transition period and will be able to continue buying oil from Russia until the end of 2023.

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War crimes in Bucha

The new round also expands the number of individuals sanctioned by the EU to punish “high-ranking military officers and others who committed war crimes in Bucha and who are responsible for the inhumane siege of the city of Mariupol,” the German said. about a decision that sends a signal to all those responsible for the war in the Kremlin: “We know who they are and they will be held accountable”. Precisely Von der Leyen visited the town of Bucha in early April accompanied by the head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borrell.

The new package also hits the banking sector to financially isolate Russia. To do this, it expands the number of banks disconnected from the Swift payment communication system by including Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia with 37% of the entire banking sector in the country, and two other important banks. “In this way, we hit the banks that are systemically critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to destroy it. This will consolidate the complete isolation of the Russian financial sector from the global system,” defends Brussels. Until now, the European authorities have already they had excluded from Swift seven banking entities that represent 25% of the Russian financial system.

On the table of the 27 there will also be a proposal to ban big three russian tv state-owned issue in the EU. “They will not be allowed to distribute their content in the EU, whatever its form, be it by cable, by satellite, by Internet or through applications for smartphones,” explained von der Leyen about some television channels that, according to denounced, they aggressively amplify Vladimir Putin’s lies and propaganda. “We must not continue to give them a stage to spread these lies,” he has said. The package also calls for a ban on accountants, consultants and advisers in Europe from providing such services to Russian companies.

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Reconstruction of Ukraine

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Beyond the sanctions, the president of the European Commission has pointed out that they not only want Ukraine to win the war but also for the country to get back on its feet as soon as possible and the first step for them is to take short-term economic and financial support and suspend all import duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU for one year. Two measures that, however, he has recognized are insufficient. “Ukraine’s GDP is expected to fall by 30% to 50% this year alone. And the IMF calculates that, as of May, Ukraine needs 5,000 million euros every monthplain and simple, to keep the country running, pay pensions, salaries and basic services”, he recalled.

In the longer term, in a second phase, efforts should be concentrated on reconstruction of the country for which the help of other partners such as the United States will be necessary. Although he has not given estimates on the financial needs, he has recalled that the magnitude of the destruction in the country is brutal, with hospitals, schools, houses, roads, bridges, railways, theaters and factories destroyed. “Economists speak of several hundred billion euros” but “the costs increase with each day of this senseless war”, said von der Leyen, stressing Europe’s responsibility with Ukraine and the need to provide the country with investments and reforms through a plan that will also help fight corruption, align the country with European rules, improve Ukraine’s productive capacity and “eventually pave the way for Ukraine’s future within the EU.”

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