World: Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission’s head, has called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in the sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.
Von der Leyen urged the European Union’s member states to phase out crude oil imports within six months and refined products by the end of this year.
According to her proposal, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks would be cut off from the SWIFT international banking payment system.
The proposals need to be unanimously agreed to take effect and are likely to be the subject of heated spark discussion. Von der Leyen conceded that getting all EU countries – some of which are landlocked and highly reliant on Russia for energy supplies – to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy”.
The EU’s proposed sixth round of sanctions against Russia “notably makes no reference to Russian gas,” says a news report.
“Why? Because, in a sense, it is a bit like it is the elephant in the European living room – it is too big to be overlooked, but also so big that to do away with it straight away might have a disastrous effect on economies all over this continent,” said a journalist.
The financial aspect of the proposed embargoes is also intriguing because, until now, the European Union had been reticent to impose sanctions on all the financial institutions in Russia.
But today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that Sberbank, which is one of the largest banks that have dealings with the EU, will find itself kicked out of the SWIFT transaction system.