EU leaders downplay chances of rapid Russian gas ban

(EurActiv, 31 May 2022) EU leaders on Tuesday (31 May) played down the prospects of getting a ban on Russian gas in a next round of sanctions, after struggling to secure a watered-down embargo on Moscow’s key oil exports.

The 27-nation bloc agreed at a summit Monday to a sixth package of sanctions that will see the majority of Russian oil stopped, but exempted supplies by pipeline in a concession to hold-out Hungary.

The weeks of wrangling over oil rocked European unity in the face of the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, and cutting off major economies like Germany from Russian gas is a far tougher ask.

“I think that the gas has to be in the seventh package but I’m a realist as well, I don’t think it will be there,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on the second day of the summit in Brussels.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer warned that “it was much easier to compensate for oil.”

“With gas it is quite different. Therefore the gas embargo will not be an issue in the next package of sanctions either,” he argued.

Belgian premier Alexander De Croo said the bloc “should pause it for now” before moving on to consider a new round of sanctions.

“For gas, it is also way more complicated. So this is an important step. Let’s stop there for the moment, let’s see what the impact is,” he said.

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EurActiv, 31 May 2022: EU leaders downplay chances of rapid Russian gas ban