Foreign ministers of European Union countries will discuss a sixth round of sanctions on Moscow on Monday over its war in Ukraine, but the bloc remains divided on a ban on imports of Russian gas and oil.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Kyiv on Friday that the EU was now engaged in “progressive sanctions” against Russia to increasingly punish President Vladimir Putin for its decision to invade its pro-Western neighbour.
“We are mobilizing our economic power to make Putin pay a very, very heavy price,” she said. “We have imposed five unprecedented waves of sanctions against Russia. And we are already preparing for the next wave.”
Although the sanctions that would hurt Russia the most – an EU boycott of its oil and gas exports – are not officially on the table, European Union diplomats acknowledge that there are talks About them.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for such EU embargoes. The fifth round of sanctions, imposed since Friday, includes a ban on Russian coal imports into the EU – an important first step towards a broader ban on more energy supplies.
However, unanimity is required among the 27 EU countries for sanctions to be imposed, and countries dependent on Russian gas – including Germany, Italy, Austria and Hungary – are reluctant to do so. ‘add to list.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, the Kremlin has pocketed more than 35 billion euros ($38 billion) in gas, oil and coal sales to the EU, according to the political chief foreigner of the bloc, Josep Borrell.
The coal ban is expected to shave around eight billion euros a year from that amount, according to the European Commission – a small portion of global fossil fuel revenues. But where the EU is more in agreement is on financing the supply of arms to Ukraine.
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More euros for weapons
Several European diplomats said an additional 500 million euros would soon be added to a “European peace facility” to finance these arms purchases for Ukraine, bringing the total available to 1.5 billion euros.
“I’m sure we’ll put another 500 million (euros) on the table to continue supporting you. We’re ready to match those resources to your demands,” Borrell said on Friday as he accompanied von der Leyen to Kyiv.
“That, from a military point of view, is clear to us: we have to provide the kind of weapons you need to keep fighting.”
Borrell also said Ukrainians and Western allies believed the outcome of the war would be decided in the coming days, in a battle for Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, which neighbors Russia.
NATO, the United States and the EU have said they believe Russian forces have withdrawn from around kyiv to regroup and launch a major assault in an attempt to take all of Donbass. Parts of this region closest to Russia have been controlled since 2014 by pro-Kremlin separatists armed by Moscow.
The perceived strategic goal is for Russia to create a “land bridge” from its border through southeastern Ukraine, to link up with Crimea, which Russia occupied and then annexed seven years ago.
To counter this, Ukraine needs weapons with a longer range than it currently has, to attack Russian ships and warplanes.
Slovakia announced on Friday that it had supplied Ukraine with a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile defense system, the S-300.
British Prime Minister and former EU member Boris Johnson said during a visit to Kyiv on Saturday that his country would provide new anti-ship missile systems as well as 120 armored vehicles.
During their meeting on April 11, the European ministers meeting in Luxembourg are also due to meet the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, who has opened war crimes investigations into the atrocities committed in Ukraine.