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EU agrees to cut Russian oil imports by more than ‘two-thirds’

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The leaders of the 27 countries of the European Union reached an agreement on Monday May 30 which should make it possible to reduce their imports of Russian oil by some 90% by the end of the year in order to dry up the financing of the war waged by Moscow in Ukraine.

This embargo on crude oil within 6 months and refined products within 8 months is the key measure but also the thorniest of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia which was blocked until now by Hungary.

→ REREAD. Embargo on Russian oil: why the European Union hesitates

The Heads of State and Government meeting at the summit in Brussels finally gave the green light to a gradual halt in imports of Russian oil transported by boat, ie 2/3 of European purchases. A temporary exemption has been provided for oil transported by pipeline, in order to lift Budapest’s veto. ‘This will cut off a huge source of funding from Russia’s war machine’tweeted the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

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“We are taking new sanctions tonight”

Berlin and Warsaw having pledged on their side to stop their imports through the Druzhba pipeline, in total 90% of Russian oil exports to the EU will be stopped by the end of the year, say European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron. The extension of the embargo to pipeline deliveries will then be discussed. ” as soon as possible “ without a deadline being set.

“Russia is choosing to continue its war in Ukraine. As Europeans, united and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we are taking new sanctions tonight”tweeted Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds the presidency of the Council of the EU.

Unanimity is required for the adoption of sanctions. The political green light from the leaders must still give rise to discussions on Wednesday between the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven, with a view to finalizing the agreement. Negotiations will then take place to also stop imports via Druzhba (1/3 of European supplies), whose northern branch serves Germany, Austria and Poland, and the southern branch serves Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Exclusion of three banks from Swift

Under negotiation for a month, the new sanctions package also provides for an expansion of the EU blacklist to around 60 personalities, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. It includes the exclusion of three Russian banks from the Swift international financial system, including Sberbank, the country’s main institution.

→ EXPLANATION. In Ukraine, grain corridors to secure world food

The leaders also approved the granting of 9 billion euros to the Ukrainian government to cover its immediate cash needs to run its economy.

The two-day summit must also address this Tuesday, May 31, the continent’s energy transition to do without Russian gas and the food crisis linked to the war in Ukraine which threatens the African continent in particular.

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