Putin says it's impossible for some EU countries to ditch Russian oil now

An oil refinery in Volgograd, Russia. EU members are negotiating a proposed oil embargo on Russia over Ukraine. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday (May 17) that it was impossible for some European countries to quickly ditch Russian oil, as the European Union is proposing.

EU members are negotiating a proposed oil embargo on Russia over Ukraine, but talks failed this week because of a veto from Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil imports.

"Obviously, some EU states, in whose energy balance the share of Russian hydrocarbons is especially high, will not be able to do this for a long time, to ditch our oil," Mr Putin said.

Speaking at a televised meeting with domestic oil managers and government officials, Mr Putin also said that Western sanctions and a possible embargo on Russian oil had resulted in an increase in global oil prices.

He said that by abandoning Russian energy supplies, Europe risked paying the most expensive energy prices in the world long-term, while the competitiveness of its industry would be undermined.

He also said that Western sanctions had stoked inflation across Europe itself.

Russia is facing an oil production decline unseen since the collapse of the Soviet Union because of the Western sanctions, which highly complicate the sale of Russian oil globally.

"There are tectonic changes on the oil market, and making business as it had been done before, in line with the old model, looks unlikely," Mr Putin said, adding that it was important to set up a complete chain from producer to end-buyer.

He has promised state help for domestic oil producers, including facilitating access to loans and insurance.

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