The European Union has proposed to ban all oil imports from Russia by the end of the year and remove Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments network.
Russia is the world’s second-biggest crude oil exporter, and last year accounted for about 27% of EU oil imports. The United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia have already banned imports.
Speaking on Wednesday, May 4, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the measures would form part of a sixth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“We now propose a ban on Russian oil,” she said during a speech to the European Parliament.
“Let’s be clear: it will not be easy. 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.”
She added that Crude oil supply would be phased out within six months, and imports of refined oil products from Russia by the end of 2022.
News of the proposal, which still needs the approval of all EU member states, increased crude oil prices by more than 3.5% to $109 a barrel.
EU countries have already agreed to phase out importation of Russian coal but find it hard agreeing to phase out importation of oil despite weeks of talks.
Slovakia and Hungary reportedly want to exempted from any ban on Russian energy.
“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 posted on Twitter.