EU pushes at last hour to agree on Russian oil sanctions

European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, May 30 (Reuters) – Senior European Union diplomats met on Monday for a final bid to reach an agreement on Russian sanctions against oil imports before their leaders meet later in the day, seeking to avoid a spectacle of disunity over the bloc’s response to the war in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sounded a note of hope ahead of the two-day summit in Brussels, where the leaders of the 27 countries will see little concrete outcome if the deadlock over an oil embargo continues a broader set of sanctions on the table.

“I think this afternoon we can propose to the heads of member states an agreement,” Borrell told France Info.

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Ambassadors failed on Sunday to agree on a proposal that would ban Russian oil delivered to EU countries by sea by the end of this year, but exempt oil delivered by a pipeline that feeds the Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic landlocked.

EU leaders will declare their continued support for Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s onslaught and they will discuss how to manage the impact of the conflict, in particular the spike in energy prices and a looming food crisis.

However, the talks will be overshadowed by their month-long struggle to agree on a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow.

“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we saw what can happen when Europe is united,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday. “In view of the summit tomorrow, let’s hope it continues like this. But it’s already starting to crumble and crumble again.” Read more

Other elements of the latest set of sanctions include removing Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank (SBMX.MM), from the SWIFT messaging system, banning Russian broadcasters from the EU and adding people to a list whose assets are frozen.

The most tangible outcome of the summit will be an agreement on a package of EU loans worth 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion), with a small grant component to cover some of the interest , for Ukraine to maintain its government and pay salaries for about two years. month.

A decision on how to collect the money will be made later.

According to draft conclusions from the summit seen by Reuters, the leaders will also support the creation of an international fund to rebuild Ukraine after the war, with details to be decided later, and address the legally sensitive issue of the confiscation of Russian assets. frozen for this purpose.

Leaders will pledge to speed up work to help Ukraine get its grain out of the country to global buyers by rail and truck as the Russian navy blocks usual shipping routes and take steps to become independent faster Russian energy.

The project showed that leaders would explore ways to curb rising energy prices, including the possibility of introducing temporary price caps, reducing red tape associated with the deployment of renewable energy sources and invest in connecting national energy networks across borders to help each other better.

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Editing by Edmund Blair

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