June 7, 2023

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A hopeful agreement on a Russian oil embargo will be reached within days

A hopeful agreement on a Russian oil embargo will be reached within days

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during the plenary session of the European Parliament at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, on March 23, 2022.

John Theiss | AFP | Getty Images

DAVOS, Switzerland – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNBC on Tuesday that she hopes a deal can be reached to punish Russian oil in the coming days.

The 27 European Union countries have been stuck due to an oil embargo on Russia for several weeks, with countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic blocking the measure. Any sanctions imposed by the European Union must have the approval of all 27 member states in order to be implemented.

“I hope we can talk about days. So what we’re looking for is one or two member states that are landlocked, so you can’t get oil by sea and you need alternatives in pipelines and in refineries, and there we’re trying to find solutions,” von der Leyen said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum .

“We are working hard on the oil embargo,” she added.

The European Union decided last month to ban imports of Russian coal, But imposing restrictions on oil has proven to be a more complex task. Countries that rely heavily on Russian fossil fuels are concerned about the effects of such measures on their economies.

Hungary, for example, is It said He requested financial support of 15 billion to 18 billion euros ($16 billion to $19 billion) to move away from Russian energy. Hungary will reportedly refuse to discuss the matter at the upcoming EU meeting later this month.

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The stalemate over oil also raises questions about whether the European Union will be able to end purchases of Russian natural gas, the main fossil fuel the European Union buys from Russia.

The topic of energy security has been a concern of many European politicians for some time, but it has received more attention since the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on the main stage of the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, von der Leyen said there is no doubt that “we are witnessing how Russia is weaponizing its energy supplies.”

The Kremlin demanded that “unfriendly countries”, such as the countries of the European Union, pay for Russian gas in rubles. Poland and Bulgaria – two countries in the European Union – saw Russian gas supplies cut off earlier this year after refusing to pay for the commodity using Russian currency.

Seizure of Russian assets

In recent days, there has been talk of confiscation of Russian assets to finance reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, is one of a growing number who want to use frozen Russian reserves for this purpose. Von der Leyen said the EU’s legal team was already working on the case.

“There is a feeling all over the world that Russia should also be a part of the reconstruction effort, and we are looking at legal ways and means now to seize, in part, the assets of any of the oligarchs, depending on the role they played, or the Russian government.”

“As I said, this is not a trifle, but if the whole world stands to support Ukraine, to rise from the rubble, then Russia should also give its fair share,” she said.