According to two EU officials, the European Commission may exempt Hungary and Slovakia from an European embargo on Russian oil, given their dependence on Russian crude.
The European Commission is expected to finalise a sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine which would include a ban on buying Russian oil. Exports of oil are a major source of Moscow’s revenue.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, thanked Slovakia for its support of Kyiv, in what seems a sign of understanding of Slovakia’s position.
“Ukraine will always remember what our Slovak friends did for us. Warm welcome for Ukrainians fleeing the war, humanitarian aid, arms supplies, support for granting Ukraine EU candidate status and allowing tariff-free exports to the EU,” tweeted Kuleba. “We are lucky to have Slovakia as a neighbor.”
The embargo on Russian oil will be phased in such way that its full impact will be felt from the beginning of 2023, said officials.
Nearly 50% of Russia’s crude and petroleum exports have European destinations.
Since February 24, EU countries have paid Russia around 20 billion euros, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a research organisation.
Overall, the EU is dependent on Russia for 26% of its oil imports.
According to the International Energy Agency, Slovakia and Hungary are significantly dependent on Russian crude and oil products.
Germany, Europe’s top buyer of Russian oil has so far resisted an oil embargo, over concerns of massive economic costs which will fuel inflation.
In 2021, Germany imported 35% of its crude oil from Russia. In recent weeks it reduced that to 12%, said the German economy ministry in an update on energy security.
“An oil embargo with a sufficient transitional period would now be manageable in Germany, subject to rising prices,” said the German economy ministry.
The EU sanctions package is slated to be presented to ambassadors of EU governments on Wednesday.