Updated May 4, 2022 - World

EU leader announces Russian oil embargo plans

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference on in Brussels, Belgium on April 27
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference in Brussels on April 27. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The European Commission on Wednesday announced plans for a phased ban on all Russian oil by the end of the year, in a proposed sixth round of sanctions aimed at pressing President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: Russia is the world's second-largest crude oil exporter and Europe, unlike the U.S., is hugely reliant on Russian oil, gas and coal, per Axios' Ben Geman.

  • Ambassadors from the European Union's 27 member countries were expected to adopt the plans as early as this week, meaning the sanctions could soon become law, Reuters notes.
  • EU member states Hungary and Slovakia, which are highly dependent on Russian oil, would be given a longer window to phase down imports, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament this would be "a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined."

  • "We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets," she said.
  • "This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year."

The big picture: The commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union, has also proposed to the 27 EU member countries disconnecting Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks in the country from the SWIFT international banking payment system, according to von der Leyen.

Between the lines: Simone Tagliapietra of the Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel, said a gradual EU embargo on Russian oil is a risky bet, "as in the short term it might leave Russian revenues high while implying negative consequences for the EU and global economy in terms of higher prices — not to talk about retaliation risks on natural gas supplies," per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: Pressure mounts on Europe for total Russian energy embargo

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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