May 30 (UPI) — The European Union has agreed on a deal to imposed a partial ban on oil imports from Russia in the face of its invasion of Ukraine, top EU officials announced late on Monday.
European Council President Charles Michel said the ban agreed to by all of the bloc’s 27 members in the sixth round of sanctions against Moscow will cover “more than two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine.”
The statement was an apparent reference to the two-thirds of Russian imports that arrive into Europe by sea. The other one-third are shipped mainly to Eastern European nations via land-based pipelines.
In a series of tweets, Michel said EU nations had also agreed to block Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payment system, banned three more Russian state-owned broadcasters and imposed sanctions against “individuals responsible for war crimes.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she “welcomed” the Council’s action, which came during an emergency meeting of the European Council in Brussels.
“This will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year,” she said in a Twitter post.
The deal to block Russian oil imports into the EU came after a weeks-long internal struggle in which landlocked Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic sought exemptions and opt-outs from the proposed ban, arguing they need more time to ween themselves from Russian oil.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to the European leaders via video link on Monday, urging them to stop internal “quarrels,” which, he said, only helped Moscow.
“Europe needs to show strength because Russia only sees strength as an argument,” Zelensky said, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The broadcaster said a draft of the summit’s conclusions shows the EU “resolutely condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine” and urges Russia “to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
The statement came as Russian troops moved into the outskirts of the key city of Sievierodonetsk after days of heavy shelling and fighting as Moscow continued its quest to capture eastern portions of Ukraine.