European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: Brussels needs to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The European Commission announced on Tuesday the contents of the fifth package of European sanctions against Moscow imposed in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.
The new measures include a ban on the import of Russian coal, which will be the first restrictive step against the lucrative Russian energy sector.
As the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stressed, Brussels needs to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after what she called “horrific crimes” in the Kyiv region, namely in connection with information about the alleged intentional killings of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Moscow denies all the accusations against it.
According to von der Leyen, further sanctions provide for a ban on coal imports worth 4 billion euros per year. In addition, the EU has already begun work on additional measures, which may include, among other things, oil imports.
The head of the European Commission did not mention the supply of Russian natural gas, which accounts for about 40% of the total volume on the European market. Many EU countries are opposed to gas cuts, including the EU’s largest economy, Germany.
Until now, Brussels has not expressed readiness to introduce solutions that would affect the Russian energy sector, fearing a recession of the EU economy. However, recent reports of possible massacres of civilians have increased pressure in favor of tougher sanctions measures.
The U.S. and the UK have previously announced that they will stop importing Russian oil. Some countries have announced efforts to reduce energy dependence on Moscow. For example, Poland plans to block imports of Russian coal and oil over time, and Lithuania has stated that it no longer uses Russian natural gas.
Other measures proposed by the EU executive include sanctions against a large number of individuals and four key Russian banks, including VTB. “These four banks, which we are now completely cutting off from the market, occupy 23% of the Russian banking sector, so the measure will further weaken the Russian financial system,” Ursula von der Leyen said on April 5.
If the proposals are unanimously supported by all 27 EU member states, the new package of sanctions will also prohibit Russian ships from entering EU ports, with the exception of supplies of essential goods such as agricultural products, food, humanitarian aid and energy.
There is also an additional ban on exports worth 10 billion euros in the following areas: advanced semiconductors, machinery and transport equipment.