EU split on Russia as Eastern members demand ‘mother of all sanctions’ on Moscow’s oil

Russia: Fifth round of sanctions to come predicts expert

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Eastern countries of the European Union are believed to be at odds with other members of the bloc over call to trigger the “mother of all sanctions” against Russia’s Vladimir Putin. EU leaders are set to decide whether to block the import of oil and gas from Russia in retaliation for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. 

Mr Keating told France24: “There’s basically two schools of thoughts on this right now.

“There are those leaders in the EU who think that a pause is warranted now to evaluate the effect of the sanctions that have gone into effect so far, and then to think about possible future sanctions after that.

“Then there’s the other school of thought largely coming from the east that says no, we need the fifth round of strong sanctions. Right now. That includes energy.

I am getting the impression that we are heading toward a compromise that would see the fifth round of sanctions adopted this week that would cover energy.”

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He added: “We heard several foreign ministers coming into the European Council this morning, calling for exactly that Poland even calling for a complete trade embargo on Russia.

“Lithuania’s foreign minister said there is a risk of sanctions fatigue or Ukraine fatigue in general in the EU. Right now, and they said they need to guard against that.

“He was clearly referring to those voices in the council that say a pause is warranted now and he’s saying this is not the time for a pause. We cannot get fatigued by what we’re hearing we need to push ahead.

“Now interestingly, a number of foreign ministers did float the idea of including just oil and coal in a trade embargo with Russia, like leaving gas.”

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The EU and allies have already imposed hefty measures against Russia, including freezing its central bank’s assets.

Russia’s siege and bombardment of Mariupol port, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “a massive war crime”, is increasing pressure for action.

But targeting Russian energy exports, as the United States and Britain have done, is a divisive choice for the 27-nation EU, which relies on Russia for 40 percent of its gas.

Some of those who want the EU to go further showed impatience at the pace of talks after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Germany and the Netherlands said the EU was dependent on Russian oil and gas and could not cut itself off right now.

“The question of an oil embargo is not a question of whether we want or don’t want (it), but a question of how much we depend on oil,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters.

“Germany is importing a lot [of Russian oil], but there are also other member states who can’t stop the oil imports from one day to the other,” she said.

Ms Baerbock added that the bloc should instead work on reducing its reliance on Moscow for its energy needs.

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