The EU is considering hitting Russia with sanctions on oil or coal over the war in Ukraine, a top official said on Tuesday, though some countries remain worried about the potential economic fallout.
The European Union and the US are currently preparing more sanctions against Russia after allegations that Russian forces carried out war crimes when dozens of bodies were discovered near Kiev.
The Europeans are under pressure to hit Moscow in the crucial energy sector and stop paying out the huge proceeds from gas, oil, and coal that are helping Russia pay for the war.
“I don’t want to preview but indeed there are discussions on what can be done in an area of energy like coal and oil,” said EU executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis as he arrived for EU minister talks in Luxembourg.
“Discussions about this are ongoing. As far as the European Commission is concerned, it’s definitely an option, he added.
The European Commission in Brussels draws up sanction decisions but adoption requires unanimity across the 27 member states.
So far countries deeply dependent on Russia for energy – such as Germany, Austria and Italy – have resisted expanding the measures to gas or oil and have fought off pleas to do so from Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the United States.
Germany on Monday said gas was still off limits for now, given its continued importance to the European economy, while on Tuesday Austria indicated that coal imports could be an option.
“We will discuss (the question of coal) today,” said Austrian Finance Minister Magnus Brunner.
“We must always be careful with the sanctions and calmly consider what effects it has for ourselves,” he added.
EU foreign ministers could adopt the latest package, either on the sidelines of NATO or G7 meetings happening Wednesday and Thursday, or at their regular meeting early next week.
Since Russia’s military buildup against Ukraine began, sanctions against Moscow have been coordinated with the United States and other Western allies.
Washington on Monday said more sanctions against Russia would be announced “this week”.(AFP)
•PHOTO: European Union symbol