EU energy ministers 'close' to deal on ridding Europe of Russian gas

·2-min read

Energy ministers from the European Union gathered for crisis talks Monday to discuss the bloc's energy supply, days after Russia cut gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for their refusal to pay in roubles.

Top of the agenda are planned fresh sanctions – notably an embargo on Russian oil – over Moscow’s war on Ukraine. So far, the EU has imposed five rounds of sanctions on Russian officials, banks, oligarchs and companies.

Any new measures would need approval by the bloc’s 27 member countries – a process that may take days.

The European commission has warned that companies that convert euros to rubles through two accounts at the privately owned Gazprombank, as per Russia’s request, would be breaking the EU’s previously agreed sanctions.

Lucrative exchange

Russian gas accounts for about 40 percent of EU imports – at a cost of some $400 million a day – with some member states more reliant on Russian supplies than others.

Hungary, Slovakia and Austria all heavily dependent, are worried about the consequences of new sanctions – especially with more Gazprom bills are due on 20 May.

Meanwhile Germany has been steadily weaning itself off Russian oil. France 24 Brussels correspondent David Keating said this meant an agreement was looking likely sometime this week.

Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, said Russian supplies now accounted for 12 percent of total imports, down from 35 percent before the war began in February.

Push from Poland

Poland is leading the charge for tougher measures against Russia. On Monday, the country’s Climate Minister said Warsaw was ready to help Germany further distance itself from Russian oil.

"In Poland, we are ready to support Germany's ambitions of de-russification with our refinery in Gdansk," Anna Moskwa said, adding she hoped an EU embargo could take effect before the end of the year.

"I hope that will be the last voice that will ... block these sanctions on oil."

Poland is also pushing the EU to impose a cut-off date for when member states will be forced to stop importing Russian oil.

"We want this package (of sanctions) to include a very specific and clear date and requirement for all countries... that it should be a complete package without any gaps,” Moskwa said.

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