Bulgaria threatens to veto EU oil ban on Russia unless it gets derogation

(9 May 2022) Bulgaria has threatened not to support European Union’s new set of sanctions against Russia if the Balkan country does not get a derogation from the proposed ban on buying Russian oil, Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said late on Sunday.

European Union governments moved closer on Sunday towards agreeing on tough sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope.

“The talks will continue tomorrow, on Tuesday too, a meeting of the leaders may be needed to conclude them. Our position is very clear. If there be a derogation for some of the countries, we want to get a derogation too,” Vassilev told national BNT television.

“If not, we will not support the sanctions. But I do not expect to get to that, based on the talks at the moment,” he said.

Landlocked Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which all depend heavily on Russian crude delivered via Soviet-era pipelines, face a challenge to secure alternative sources and have asked for a derogation from the ban. Bulgaria has also requested a derogation.

The European Commission proposed changes on Friday to its initial planned embargo on Russian oil to give the three countries more time to shift their energy supplies, while Bulgaria was not offered concessions, EU sources said.

Earlier, Radoslav Ribarski, chairman of the National Assembly’s energy committee, said Bulgaria wanted a two-year delay before joining the EU in banning Russian oil imports.

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, 9 May 2022: Bulgaria threatens to veto EU oil ban on Russia unless it gets derogation