The deputy head of Russia’s Security Council said Tuesday that energy sanctions against the country were intended to hurt ordinary Russians by making it harder for Moscow to fund social programs.
In the most significant effort yet to punish Russia for its war in Ukraine, the European Union agreed to ban the overwhelming majority of Russian oil imports after tense negotiations that tested how far the bloc is willing to go to ostracize Moscow, AP reports.
From the moment Russia invaded on Feb. 24, the West has sought to make Moscow pay economically for its war. But targeting the lucrative energy sector was seen as a last resort in Europe and has proved hardest since the bloc relies on the country for 25% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas. European countries that are even more heavily dependent on Russia have been especially reluctant to act.
In a move unthinkable just months ago, EU leaders agreed late Monday to cut around 90% of all Russian oil imports over the next six months.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called the embargo a “big step forward” on Tuesday morning and Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin hailed it as “a watershed moment.” But both leaders cautioned that Europe would need time to adjust to the impact — and any further bans on Russian energy could only come slowly, if at all.
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