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Slovakia wants three-year transition to EU Russian oil embargo

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Slovakia wants a three-year transition period for it to phase in the European Union’s proposed embargo on Russian oil, Economy Minister Richard Sulik said on Wednesday.

Slovakia gets nearly all of its imported crude from Russia mainly via the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline, and it has joined Hungary, also highly reliant on Russian supplies, in seeking an exemption from oil embargo plans the bloc is working up.

The EU’s chief executive on Wednesday also proposed, as part of new measures, sanctions on Russia’s top bank and a ban on Russian broadcasters from European airwaves.

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The European Commission’s measures see phasing out Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

“We agree with this sanction, but are saying that we need a transitory period until we adapt to the situation,” Sulik told a news briefing in Bratislava, broadcast by Slovak daily Dennik N.

“What is being discussed today is the duration of the transitory period.”

Sulik said the longer transition would give it time to secure alternative supplies.

An EU source told Reuters on Wednesday that Hungary and Slovakia would be able to continue buying Russian crude oil until the end of 2023 under existing contracts.

The EU’s oil embargo, if agreed, would follow the United States and Britain, which have already imposed bans to cut one of the largest income streams for the Russian economy.

Ambassadors from the EU’s 27 governments are widely expected to adopt the Commission proposals as early as this week, allowing them to become law soon after.

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