EU diplomats to look at compromise on Russia sanctions

EU diplomats to look at compromise on Russia sanctions

On Sunday, ambassadors from the 27 EU member states will look at a compromise to break the deadlock on the sixth round of economic sanctions against Russia, including a landmark halt to Russian oil imports, according to EU sources.

The proposed sanctions were blocked by landlocked Hungary, which has no access to seafaring oil cargo ships, and is dependent on Russian crude supplied via the Druzhba pipeline for 65 percent of its oil needs.

Budapest has rejected a proposal to allow it to be two years longer than other EU states to wean itself off Russian oil.

It wants to increase the pipeline capacity to neighbouring Croatia and at least four years and at least 800 million euro $860 million in EU funds to adapt its refineries to process non-Russian crude.

The compromise put to the national negotiators on Sunday consists of excluding the Druzhba pipeline from a future oil embargo and only imposing sanctions on oil shipped to the EU by tanker vessel, according to the sources.

A third of all EU oil supplies come from Russia, according to the Druzhba pipeline. The remaining two thirds of Maritime cargoes account for the remaining two thirds.

The compromise was presented by France, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, and the European Council, which represents the governments of the EU nations.

Its goal is to break a stalemate that has prevented the EU from imposing six more sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine since early May.

It would end the purchases of Russian crude within six months and Russian petroleum products by the end of the year. It would impose additional sanctions on Russian banks and expand the list of Russian individuals blacklisted by the bloc.

The sources said that the whole package of new sanctions could be postponed until a solution can be found to provide Hungary with alternative oil supplies.

The search for a compromise has accelerated in recent days in order to avoid divisions over Russia over the summit of EU heads of state and government due to take place in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be speaking to the summit via a video link when it begins on Monday afternoon.

If EU ambassadors succeed in reaching a compromise on an oil embargo, it will still need to be approved by their governments before it can be put to the summit.