A senior European Commission official and Lithuania’s finance minister said on Friday that Europe was discussing a sixth round of sanctions against Russia, including hitting the Russian energy market.
European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said one of the issues under consideration was an oil embargo. There have been discussions about “smart penalties” that might include tariffs rather than a full ban initially.
“So there may be some nuances, but this work is ongoing,” Dombrovskis told reporters in Washington, D.C.
In a separate interview with CNN in the US capital, Lithuanian Finance Minister Gentaro Skaystu said she had discussed the possible next tranche of sanctions with US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wali Ademo.
“We always offer that sanctions include the energy sector, especially oil,” as well as “additional sanctions on Russia’s financial sector,” Skaisto said.
Skystowe said the sanctions must be coordinated to have an effect. “If we don’t agree on sanctions together, the United States will not succeed with all of our Western allies,” she said.
“Technically speaking, approval of sanctions can be very fast, and it can be done within a day or two,” Dombrovskis said.
“The question here is basically that sanctions require the consensus of member states, so those political discussions are going on in parallel, so it is important to reach a unanimous political agreement,” he said.
Skystowe said it was too early to say when there would be agreement on the next round of sanctions. She noted that there is a short-term and long-term goal of the sanctions: to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table and weaken the Russian economy so that it can no longer bolster its military.
“If there were no prospects for strengthening their army, we would like to believe that there would be no war in Europe,” she said.
Dombrovskis said it is important that the existing sanctions are actually implemented, noting that they are working with EU member states as well as with the broader international community.
“It is a fact that not all countries have joined those Western sanctions,” he said, noting that Beijing is “hedging its bets”, and trying to urge China and other countries to “get closer to our approach to Russia.”
Skesto said they are also focused on helping the Ukrainian government survive in the short term, and in the long term how to rebuild Ukraine more efficiently, which she believes “should be closely involved in Ukraine’s EU accession process.”
Both Skaistė and Dombrovskis have expressed concern about Putin’s future goals if he is not decisively stopped in Ukraine.
Skysto told CNN that Russia is trying to impose its influence on neighboring countries, noting that “it’s not the first time.”
“Russian propaganda and some authorities and representatives do not hide that Russia plans to go further, and if we do not stop them in Ukraine, they will invade other neighboring countries,” Dombrovskis said, describing the matter as an attack not only on Ukraine, but on European security more broadly.
Asked if Europe would respond with the same unity if Moldova was attacked by Russia, Dombrovskis said they needed to focus on Ukraine now, “because Putin will go as far as we let him go.”
CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed reporting for this post.