Russian Oil Embargo Could Be Part of Next EU Sanctions Package, Ministers Say

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell. Reuters
The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell. Reuters
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Russian Oil Embargo Could Be Part of Next EU Sanctions Package, Ministers Say

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell. Reuters
The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell. Reuters

The European Union's executive is drafting proposals for an EU oil embargo on Russia, the foreign ministers of Ireland, Lithuania and the Netherlands said on Monday, although there was no agreement to ban Russian crude.

Many of the ministers meeting in Luxembourg showed support for sanctions on Russian oil imports, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said, but for others, such a ban would constitute an "asymmetric shock", he said. The bloc agreed, however, to intensify the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, Germany said.

"They are now working on ensuring that oil is part of the next sanctions package," Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said of the European Commission.

Targeting Russian oil, which makes up about a quarter of the EU's crude imports, is seen as the EU's next step as it seeks to pressure Russia to halt the shelling of Ukrainian cities following Moscow's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Galvanized by what Ukraine says are senseless killings of civilians by Russian troops since the invasion, the bloc last week approved a fifth round of sanctions on Russia that included an end to Russian coal imports.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a "special operation" to "denazify" its southern neighbor.

"Nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas," Borrell said. He has previously said an embargo must happen "sooner or later". The European Parliament last week voted for an embargo, although its decision is not binding.

'Coordinated plan'
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on April 5 that she was considering additional sanctions, including on oil imports, based in part on proposals from EU governments. Those ideas include imposing tariffs on Russian oil, or a ban on some oil products. Borrell said EU states were also working independently to reduce their dependency.

Any oil embargo rests on both the technical details of the scope and phase-in time of such a move and the support of the EU's 27 member states. Energy dependence varies across the bloc, with countries such as Bulgaria almost totally dependent on Russian oil. Hungary has said it cannot support an oil embargo.

Germany's position, as the EU's biggest economy, will be crucial. While offering Ukraine more weapons, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a "coordinated plan to completely phase out fossil fuels" from Russia. EU diplomats said Berlin is not actively supporting an immediate embargo.

The United States and Britain have banned Russian oil, hoping to cut off a significant source of revenue for Moscow. The decision is harder for Europe's economy due to its dependency and could push up already high energy prices.



Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
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Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)

An Israeli commission investigating suspected wrongdoing in government purchases of submarines and missile boats from Germany issued a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

The panel notified Netanyahu that based on evidence gathered thus far, it could ultimately determine that he had used his position as prime minister between 2009 and 2016 to greenlight the purchases without due process.

"By doing so, he (Netanyahu) endangered the security of the state and harmed the state of Israel's foreign relations and economic interests," said the panel in its written decision, made public on Monday.

Netanyahu in response said that the submarines were central to Israel's security "in ensuring its existence against Iran, which is trying to destroy us".

"History will prove that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right on this issue as well and made the right decisions for the security of Israel," the statement from his office said.

The commission, established under the previous government in 2022, said that it will soon publish unclassified parts of the evidence collected during the probe into the deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Netanyahu has struggled to salvage his security credentials since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas-led fighters, who killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages to Gaza according to Israeli tallies, the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

In the Israeli assault on Gaza that followed, more than 37,000 people have been killed according to Gaza health authorities.