By Euronews Brussels bureau The EU’s ironclad unity appears to have found its litmus test: a ban on...
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Ukraine’s stern message to the EU: It's time to turn 'solidarity into action'

By Euronews Brussels bureau

The EU’s ironclad unity appears to have found its litmus test: a ban on Russian oil imports.

After more than a week of intense negotiations, member states have failed to reach an agreement on a proposed oil embargo. The main point of contention remains the ambitious timeline envisioned by the European Commission: a phase-out of all Russian crude oil in six months and all refined oil products by the end of the year.

Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are demanding tailored exemptions to adapt their energy systems and secure alternative providers. Since EU sanctions require the unanimous approval of all 27 states, a single “no” can block collective action – as it clearly is the case now.

Ukraine, which continues to be shelled and bombed by Russian forces, is not hiding its frustration with the bloc.

“We think this [EU] solidarity, which is declared, should be converted into action. So far, the European Union has been quite united on sanctions. We hope this crisis on the oil embargo will be overcome,” Ukraine's ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, told our colleague Efi Koutsokosta.

“We expect decision-makers in Hungary, in other countries, [to be] human, that they understand what's going on in Ukraine. They themselves could see the level of atrocities around Kyiv and other cities. So in order to stop Russia, I think, EU member states should also be ready for certain sacrifices, including economic sacrifices.”

Asked if he was disappointed by the stalled discussions, Chentsov replied “yes, we are because it's about our common fight against dictatorship, against the aggressor.”

“What we would like to avoid is blocking this decision for any other, including political, reasons. This is very important for us,” he noted.

“The message is very clear: there will be no business as usual with Russia. They need to move fast and to also be very practical and precise [about] what kind of technical solution they need to solve the issue of alternative supplies, and move forward with this package.”

Chentsov upped the ante and suggested the EU's next step should be a gas embargo, an idea that some countries have already ruled out, fearing an inevitable recession.

The pressure is on to cripple the Kremlin's ability to finance the invasion: since the conflict broke out, the 27 member states have spent over €24 billion on oil and €34 billion on gas coming from Russia, according to a tracking tool set up by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an independent research organisation.

“What is not less important is to strip Russia of cash because we've heard that this oil embargo, if introduced, will enter into force in a few months, maybe closer to the end of the year, which means that Russia, for this period, will continue receiving huge money from the EU,” Chentsov explained.

EU sanctions “are effective,” he stressed. “Each package of sanctions adds pressure, but it's not enough.”

Read the full interview with Ambassador Chentsov.

GO DEEPER If you want to understand why Eastern countries are so concerned about the oil embargo, Jorge Liboreiro brings you the key insights. And if you want to dive deeper into the behind-the-scenes negotiations, check out this story by Shona Murray.


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HEFTY BILL Ukraine faces a colossal task to rebuild the country: a new report by the Kyiv School of Economics reveals damage caused by the war has reached $600 billion, a figure that could further balloon as the invasion drags on. Brussels is already preparing a recovery package, but it’s clear the EU can’t foot the bill on its own. Our video explainer examines Ukraine’s expensive reconstruction.

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