“I say it loud and clear: Yes, Germany is also phasing out all Russian energy imports,” Barbock said after consultations with colleagues in the Baltic states. By summer, German oil imports from Russia should be halved and completely stopped by the end of the year. Barbuk said that the next step is to gradually stop importing Russian gas, but he did not mention a date for that.
The European Commission has been negotiating with EU countries for some time about a sixth sanctions package against Moscow as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine. The ban on importing Russian oil is the main point of discussion. In addition to Germany, Hungary also opposed such a measure. Bulgaria, Austria and Romania are also not enthusiastic because they depend on Russian imports. Now that Berlin is “gone”, pressure is mounting on other opponents of the oil boycott.
Ukrainian President Zelensky predicted earlier today that the German resistance would break under “unified pressure” from many EU countries, the US and the UK. EU President Michel joined Zelensky’s comments after a lightning visit to Kyiv. “Sooner or later, we’re going to break away from Russian gas and oil,” says Michel. Revenues from gas and oil exports are important for Moscow to finance the war against Ukraine.
In addition to Kyiv, Michael also visited Borodjanka, one of the Ukrainian places where Russian troops moved in. “I have no words for how I feel, as a father, as a person,” Michel said of what he saw. The European Union is helping Kyiv to map the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers and prosecute the perpetrators. They must be punished, and they will be punished,” Michel said.
The EU president said the Commission will issue its opinion on Ukraine’s application to join the EU as early as June. This is more than double what happened with previous membership applications. On the basis of the Commission’s opinion, Member States decide unanimously whether Ukraine will be granted candidate status. If you get one, years of difficult negotiations will follow before the country can join the European Union. Prime Minister Rutte has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that he does not want quick action in Kyiv.
Michel announced that an international donors’ conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine will begin on May 5. Countries, as well as international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are asked to contribute. According to Zelensky, the funds are needed not only for reconstruction, but also for the current payment of wages and pensions.
According to the Ukrainian president, countries are increasingly willing to supply his country with weapons to fight Russian forces. EU countries do it themselves, but 1.5 billion euros were also provided through the EU budget for the purchase of arms by Ukraine. In addition, the first five sanctions packages have frozen the assets of hundreds of Russians, the Russian financial sector has been put under pressure, the import of goods from Russia (including coal) is banned, and European exports of some goods to Russia are limited.
Zelensky called on the European Union to move forward. He also wants the big Gazprombank not to be able to do business in Europe. “Close all Russian accounts and transfer this money to Ukraine’s recovery,” Zelensky said.
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