Monday, April 22

The new sanctions against Russia: oil, banks and disinformation

The decision of Vladimir Putin to turn off the Russian gas tap to Poland and Bulgaria last week and the warning that there will be more Member States punished if European gas supply companies do not pay in rubles for fuel, has led the European Commission to accelerate the preparation of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which will be studied this Wednesday by the permanent ambassadors of the EU. After weeks of preparations, this time there will be measures to progressively limit by the end of the year the Russian oil importthe disconnection of more banks of the Swift payment communication system, to financially isolate the Kremlin, and the addition to the list of individuals sanctioned by new players in the disinformation machinery of the Kremlin.

“Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine affects global security. We are working on the sixth sanctions package that aims to remove more banks from Swift, list disinformation actors, and tackle oil imports. These measures will be presented to the Council for its approval”, confirmed this Tuesday afternoon the head of European diplomacy, J.Osep Borrell, on official travel in Latin America. The package that the commissary panel adopts by written procedure will be detailed before the plenary session of the European Parliament this Wednesday by the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyenas confirmed by his spokesman.

Exceptions in the plan

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Faced with the escalation of the military offensive, the Twenty-seven decided in early April to decree a coal embargo applicable from August. However, they again chose to save oil and gas from punishment, two vital sources of income for Russia. 27% of the crude imported by the EU comes from Russia and 40% of the gas. The debate was not “mature” enough at that time. Four weeks later the pressure has mounted and even Germany, the EU’s main importer of fossil fuels from Russia, is ready to embrace the idea of ​​turning off the oil tap, having reduced its dependence on Russia from 35% before the war to 12%.

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The Brussels plan, prepared in consultation with all delegations in recent weeks, will include exceptions for Slovakia and Hungary with a longer transition periods, beyond the end of 2022, to reduce its high dependency and look for alternative suppliers. In addition, Brussels’ intention is to continue hitting the Russian financial system with the disconnection of more banks from the Swift system, including the Sberbank. “Our goal is simple: we have to break Russia’s war machine. I trust that the Council will imminently impose new sanctions, particularly on Russian oil”, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michael from Greece.

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