Brussels has dropped the proposed ban on EU tankers carrying Russian oil. Splits forced the bloc to relax its recent package of economic sanctions targeting Moscow.
The splits have thwarted attempts by the European Commission to create a sixth tranche to prevent Russia from funding its invasion of Ukraine. These measures include the shipping ban and blockade on Russian oil imports.
Officials were forced to scrap plans for rules that would have prohibited European tankers from transporting Russian crude oil anywhere on the planet after intense lobbying from Greece, Malta, and Cyprus.
Diplomats alleged that the concession had undermined sanctions and allowed EU vessels access to Russian oil to be diverted from Europe to India or China.
Athens, which controls more than 25% of the world’s oil tanks by capacity and relies heavily on its shipping business, argued that non-EU countries would soon take over the business from the bloc’s member nations.
The concession was eventually approved by the Greek government after G7 allies failed to agree to a similar ban on Russian oil imports.
Ursula von der Leyen was also made to fly to Budapest as the president of the commission to meet with Viktor Orban. Orban has threatened to veto all the sanctions.
The Hungarian prime Minister is considered to be the last opponent to Mrs von der Leyen’s attempt to eliminate imports of Russian oil by year’s end.
According to the plans of the chief of the commission, EU countries will phase out crude oil supplies within six months and refinements by the end of the year.
Officials granted Hungary and Slovakia the opportunity to conform to the measure until 2024, while the Czech Republic was given until June of that year.
The Druzhba Pipeline is the main source of oil for Hungary. It pumps oil via Belarus into Europe, accounting for around two-thirds. This figure rises to 96% for Slovakia.
Peter Szijjarto was Hungary’s foreign minister and said that while he voted for all of the previous sanctions, this one would threaten the security of Hungary’s energy supply.
“Hungary won’t vote for the European Commission initiative on sanctions against Russia, because it poses a problem to Hungary and doesn’t contain a solution proposal. This proposal is an atomic bomb for Hungary’s economy and would decimate our stable energy supply.
Bulgaria threatened to veto any EU-imposed sanctions if it wasn’t offered an equivalent exemption.
Assen Vassilev (the deputy prime minister) stated that “our position is very clear.” “If there’s a derogation for certain countries, we want that derogation as well. We will not support sanctions if there are not. However, I don’t expect to reach that conclusion based on the current talks.”
Josep Borrell (EU’s top diplomat abroad) called for the bloc to seize the frozen assets to pay the costs of Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.
According to the Spaniard, the US used billions of dollars in assets belonging to the Afghan central banking to pay terror victims and provide humanitarian aid to the country. He stated that he was in favour of an EU approach to support Kyiv following the war.
He told the Financial Times that he would support it because it was full of logic. “We have the money in the pockets. Someone has to explain why it is good to the Afghan money but not the Russian money.”
The EU’s legal service was tasked to determine if such a plan would be acceptable to forcibly pay some of the reconstruction costs.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, also supported a plan to liquidate more than EUR30 Billion in assets frozen that were linked to sanctions on Russia and Belarus.
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