“These atrocities cannot and will not go unanswered,” von der Leyen said. “It is important to maintain maximum pressure on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government at this critical moment.”
The package does not meet the requirements of an embargo on Russian oil or natural gas and is unlikely to silence the EU calls for more.
This is the first EU move to block Russian energy imports since the invasion. Simon Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think-tank, said the reason the committee recommended coal, not oil or gas, “probably because it’s easy to replace. Best”.
In 2020, the EU imports just under 20% of coal from Russia compared with about 35% of EU oil and 40% of natural gas, according to the EU statistics office.
“Every day the EU imports from Russia about 15 million euros of coal [$16.38 milliion]about 400 million euros [$436.84 million] for gas and 450 million euros [$491.44 million] for oil,” said Tagliapietra. “A ban on coal will not affect Russia.”
Von der Leyen suggested Tuesday that oil could be next – but gave no specific plan or timeline. “We are working on additional sanctions, including oil imports,” she said.
The commission said on Tuesday that a ban on coal imports from Russia would affect Russia by $4 billion a year, cutting “another important source of Russian revenue”. However, some countries may push for an adjustment to this plan, prioritizing the elimination of Russian coal.
In addition to targeting coal, the package also aims to “undermine Russia’s financial system” by cutting four banks and imposing an export ban on items such as quantum computers and semiconductors. leading to “further deterioration of Russia’s technological base and industrial capabilities”, according to One declare.
The commission’s proposal also seeks to block most Russian ships and trucks from the EU, in order to “significantly limit options for Russian industry to obtain key goods”. There will also be additional sanctions against individuals, although they have yet to be named.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU has worked with the US and other countries to hit Russia with a series of sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow and undermining the war effort.
Although the next round of sanctions has been underway for some time, reports of possible war crimes have prompted the EU to boost energy activity, starting with coal.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said: “Today we are submitting a proposal on sanctions to further cripple Putin’s war machine following the atrocities committed by the armed forces. Russian armed forces perpetrated in Bucha and elsewhere under Russian occupation in Ukraine,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat.
The leaders of Ukraine and several EUs have urged the bloc to impose an outright embargo, but major EU economies have refused, saying the costs to Europe would be too high.
The gruesome images from Bucha have increased the pressure to act. French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said indications of “war crimes” in Ukraine led to new sanctions. The Élysée presidential palace later said that France would roll back its embargo on Russian oil and coal – not natural gas.
Germany doesn’t want a gas embargo, and neither does Austria. Austria’s Finance Minister, Magnus Brunner, on Monday said the EU should “keep a cool head” despite Bucha. “Sanctions must not affect us more than Russia,” he said.
“That’s why we, along with Germany, are so reluctant about the gas embargo,” he said.