Ukraine finance minister calls for total embargo on Russian oil and gas

The halt of Russian gas has left companies scrambling as they fear insecure deliveries and rising prices. PHOTO: AFP

KYIV (REUTERS) - Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko called on Friday (May 6) for a complete international embargo on Russian oil and gas over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Marchenko told an online briefing that Ukraine was struggling to balance its budget after 10 weeks of war and said that, as finance minister, he could not be satisfied with the speed at which financial assistance was arriving from abroad.

Referring to what he called the "insufficiency of the sanctions that have been introduced", he said the high price of oil and natural gas meant Moscow had a budget surplus and "they feel quite comfortable".

"The main issue is a complete embargo on the purchase of gas and oil from the Russian Federation. This is something that needs to be worked on and that the Ukrainian authorities are actively working on," he said. "This will make it possible to remove the possibility of financing the war."

Economic measures from Washington and European allies have hobbled Russia's US$1.8 trillion (S$2.5 trillion) economy while billions of dollars worth of military aid has helped Ukraine frustrate the invasion.

In an apparent crack in Western unity, however, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday his country could not support the European Union's proposed new sanctions package, which includes an oil embargo, in its present form.

On the state budget, Marchenko said: "We are now practically not balancing the budget for the reason that our income at the moment, unfortunately, covers only 54 per cent of our expenses excluding military spending."

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