Updated May 31, 2022 - World

EU to ban most Russian oil imports

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks to the press in the Berlaymont, the European Union Commission headquarter on April 27, 2022, in Brussels, Belgium.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

European Union leaders agreed Monday to block most Russian oil imports due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: "This immediately covers more than 2/3 of oil imports from Russia, cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine," European Council president Charles Michel tweeted. "Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war," he added.

  • The 27 EU member countries' agreement "will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year," noted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a tweet Monday.

Yes, but: There is an exemption for oil transfers by pipelines after the EU saw some resistance to the proposed oil embargo from landlocked countries, notably from Hungary.

Context: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had said a fast phasing out of Russia's oil would be like dropping "a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy," per the Washington Post.

The big picture: The agreement is part of a fresh sanctions package that disconnects Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, from the SWIFT international banking payment system, bans three more Russian state-owned broadcasters and targets more individuals that the EU says were "responsible for war crimes" in Ukraine, according to Michel.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the sanctions package.

Go deeper