EU's Borrell says new Russia sanctions to hit oil, cut more banks from SWIFT

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the proposals would be presented to the bloc's member states for approval. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - The European Union is working on new sanctions against Russia for waging war on Ukraine that will target Moscow's oil industry, more Russia banks and those responsible for disinformation, the bloc's top diplomat said on Tuesday (May 3).

"We are working on the sixth package of sanctions which aims to de-SWIFT more banks, list disinformation actors and tackle oil imports," Josep Borrell, head of the foreign policy unit at the EU's executive European Commission, said in a tweet.

Borrell added that the Commission's proposals would be presented to the bloc's 27 member states for approval.

Officials said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to spell out the proposed sanctions on Wednesday, and that they would include a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of this year.

However, some members are jockeying to opt out of an oil embargo.

The commission's proposal would phase in a ban on oil imports from Russia over six to eight months, with Hungary and Slovakia allowed to take a few months longer, EU officials told AFP. But Slovakia, which like Hungary is almost 100 per cent dependent for fuel on Russian crude coming through the Druzbha pipeline, has said it will need several years.

Slovakia's refinery is designed to work with Russian oil and would need to be thoroughly overhauled or replaced to deal with imports from elsewhere - an expensive and lengthy process. Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity during the legally and diplomatically fraught negotiation, said Bulgaria and the Czech Republic could also seek sanctions opt-outs.

One European diplomat warned that granting exemptions to one or two highly-dependent states could trigger a domino effect of exemption demands that would undermine the embargo.

The European Commission is not planning to unveil the draft in public before its president, Ursula von der Leyen, addresses the European Parliament on Wednesday. But member state missions were expected to receive the plan later on Tuesday.

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