The oil embargo against Russia decided by the EU initially only affects a special delivery route. The most important questions and answers on the latest EU sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

After long resistance from Hungary, the EU heads of state and government have agreed on a far-reaching embargo on Russian oil imports. The resolution of the summit meeting on Monday in Brussels will cover more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports by the end of the year, said EU Council President Charles Michel late in the evening. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of an “effective” reduction of up to 90 percent.

What exactly was decided?

According to von der Leyen, the agreement relates to imports by ship. Oil deliveries by pipeline should therefore initially continue to be allowed. Hungary in particular had demanded this. The country relies on Russian oil, which is transported through the Druzhba pipeline, for two-thirds of its consumption.

However, Germany and Poland, which also import a lot of oil via this pipeline, had already announced that they would completely forgo oil from Russia from next year. This will increase the planned reduction in oil imports to around 90 percent by the end of the year, explained von der Leyen. In this way, the EU is cutting off the Kremlin “from a huge source of funding for its war machine,” Michel explained.

What questions are still open?

According to information from diplomatic circles, it is primarily a question of a fundamental political agreement on the reduction of oil imports. Many questions still have to be clarified in detail. The adopted summit conclusions, for example, mention a “temporary” derogation for pipeline oil. It remains unclear how long Hungary will be able to continue purchasing Russian oil. The French Presidency announced that negotiations on a complete ban on Russian oil imports should begin “as soon as possible”.

Questions about Brussels’ financial support for the energy security of the member states as part of the Corona Recovery Fund are to be discussed further on the second day of the summit on Tuesday. This is complicated by the fact that the payment of these funds for Hungary is currently still blocked by the EU Commission. The authority refers to shortcomings in the Hungarian judicial system and possible misuse of funds resulting therefrom.

Are there more sanctions against Russia?

In addition to the oil embargo, the planned punitive package against Moscow includes sanctions against around 60 personalities close to the Kremlin, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. In addition, three other Russian banks are to be excluded from the international financial system Swift, including Sberbank, the country’s largest credit institution, and other Russian state media are to be banned.

Will Ukraine get more support?

According to Michel, the EU heads of state and government also agreed on a further nine billion euros in aid for Ukraine to cover Kiev’s “immediate liquidity needs”. According to information from diplomatic circles, the exact formalities have not yet been determined, and the money is expected to flow in the form of low-interest long-term loans.

How do the heads of government assess the compromise on the oil embargo?

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke of “further drastic sanctions against Russia”. “Russia has decided to continue its war in Ukraine,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. “Tonight, as Europeans, united and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we are taking new, decisive sanctions.”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has welcomed the EU compromise in the dispute over the oil embargo against Russia. “Families can sleep soundly tonight, we have fended off the most outrageous idea,” Orban said in a video message on the online network Facebook on Tuesday. “We have reached an agreement that states that countries that receive oil through pipelines can continue to operate their economies under the previous conditions,” Orban announced. A total ban on Russian oil imports would have been “unacceptable” and “like a nuclear bomb” for Hungary,” Orban said. “But we managed to prevent that.”