The longer EU pays for Russian oil, ‘the longer this war will continue’: Ukraine FM

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If the European Union does not introduce an embargo on Russian oil, then Russia will continue to profit from selling oil and gas which pumps more money into its Ukraine war spending, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Al Hadath in an interview which aired Thursday.

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“Without the interim introducing oil and gas embargo on Russia by the European Union, Russia will continue to make billions of euros and investing by selling oil and gas to the EU. And they will then invest this money in the Russian war machine that will continue killing people in Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

“It’s very clear and simple. The more you pay for Russian gas and oil, the longer this war will continue.”

The EU on Wednesday proposed a phased embargo of Russian oil but did not manage to reach a decision. The embargo will be difficult to implement, given Europe’s distribution network and challenges associated with tracking crude once it is blended or refined.

If agreed by the member states, the plan is likely to go into effect within six months for crude oil and in eight months for diesel and other oil products, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

This is especially crucial because many EU member states rely heavily on Russian oil and gas and the bloc remains somewhat divided over their allegiances throughout the Ukraine war.

“Those countries who speak against the introduction of oil embargo or gas embargo, they are, in fact, siding with Russia,” Kuleba said, adding that it was a “great opportunity for Arab countries to revisit their relations” with EU member states so they can “gain stronger market position” in the bloc countries.

“I would encourage producers of oil from Arab countries, and then at certain stage producers of gas from other countries, to engage with the European Union in a more active fashion in order to gain better market positions,” the foreign minister urged.

“When it comes to selling oil and gas to Europe… we heard the statement of the government of Hungary that they will not support the six package of European sanctions if they contain oil embargo.”

Under the EU proposal announced on Wednesday, Hungary and Slovakia would be granted a longer period – until the end of 2023 – to adapt to the embargo, Reuters reported. This means that countries in the EU would still be able to purchase Russian oil via Hungary and Slovakia, unless the plan is ratified to prevent both countries from buying more oil than they need.

The Hungarian government’s press office said in a statement to AFP on Wednesday that it saw no guarantee for its energy security, but no definite answer was given on a possible outright rejection of the EU proposal.

Hungary has so far ruled out supporting any import ban with Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who has cultivated close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent years – citing the central European country’s dependency on Russian gas and oil, AFP reported.

“We will continue working with Hungary, and I'm sure that the relevant discussion will continue at the EU level because the rest of Europe firmly supports the introduction of oil embargo against Russia,” Kuleba said.

Read more:

Ukraine FM: Russian invasion ‘absolutely unprovoked,’ ‘attack against humanity’

Hungary says Russia oil ban lacks ‘guarantee’ for energy security

Why the EU may find it tough to squeeze out Russian oil

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