EU countries should be ready to make “economic sacrifices” and approve the long-awaited ban on Russian oil imports, Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, told Euronews.
His comments come amid a diplomatic deadlock regarding the proposed oil embargo, the most drastic and consequential measure unveiled by the bloc since the start of the war in Ukraine.
The main point of contention remains the ambitious timetable envisaged by the European Commission: a phase-out of all Russian crude oil in six months and all refined petroleum products by the end of the year.
Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are asking for derogations in order to have more time to adapt their energy systems and find alternative suppliers.
“We believe that this solidarity, which is declared, must be translated into action. So far, the European Union has been quite united on sanctions. We hope that this oil embargo crisis will be overcome,” said Ambassador Chentsov to Efi Koutsokosta of Euronews. Tuesday afternoon.
“We expect decision-makers in Hungary, in other countries, to be human, to understand what is happening in Ukraine. They themselves could see the level of atrocities around Kyiv and other cities So to stop Russia, I think, EU member states should also be ready for certain sacrifices, including economic sacrifices.”
When asked if he was disappointed with the stalled talks, he replied “yes, we are because this is about our common fight against the dictatorship, against the aggressor”.
“What we would like to avoid is blocking this decision for any other reason, including political ones. It is very important for us,” he noted.
“No business as usual with Russia”
“The message is very clear: there will be no business as usual with Russia. They must go fast and also be very practical and precise. [about] what kind of technical solution they need to solve the problem of alternative supplies and move forward with this sanctions package,” the ambassador said.
He also upped the ante and suggested that the EU’s next step should be a gas embargo, an idea some countries have already ruled out, fearing an inevitable recession. Brussels, however, unveiled plans to gradually wean off the Russian gas pipeline block.
Pressure is high to cripple the Kremlin’s ability to finance the invasion: since the start of the conflict, the 27 member states have spent more than 24 billion euros on oil and 34 billion euros on gas from Russia, according to a tracking tool set up by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an independent research body.
“No less important is depriving Russia of liquidity because we have heard that this oil embargo, if introduced, will come into effect in a few months, perhaps closer to the end. end of the year, which means that Russia for this period will continue to receive huge sums of money from the EU,” explained Chentsov, expressing his support for intermediate measures such as the creation of an escrow account.
EU sanctions “are effective”, he stressed. “Each package of sanctions adds pressure, but it’s not enough.”
Candidate status will be a ‘serious moral boost’
As the war rages on with no sign of abating, Ukraine has pushed forward with its application to the EU.
The country recently completed and submitted the second part of the accession questionnaire submitted by the European Commission, which is expected to publish its review in June.
Once the opinion is published, it will be up to member states to decide – unanimously – whether Ukraine deserves candidate status, a moment that will pave the way for a series of long, arduous and highly technical negotiations. .
Speaking in Strasbourg on Monday, the French President Emmanuel Macron said it will take “decades” for Ukraine to join the bloc. Macron has suggested that Ukraine and other like-minded countries could join a “parallel European community” to align more closely with the EU.
Ambassador Chentsov said Macron’s idea, details of which remain scarce, should be “studied very carefully”, but insisted his country was determined to secure coveted candidate status.
“What we need now is to grant candidate status to Ukraine, because for us it is an existential question, because the Russian Federation has questioned the right of the Ukrainian people to exist , the right of the Ukrainian state to exist,” he said.
“Granting status, to our army, to our people, this will give a very serious moral and psychological boost. It is a kind of recognition of Ukraine as a European country in a family of other states Europeans, and that we are together. It is a symbolic gesture. It is a very important political decision.
The Ambassador asserted that Ukraine’s resistance and resilience in the face of Russian aggression proves its readiness to become a full member of the EU and assume all necessary responsibilities.
“I just wonder how many Member States would now be able to sustain this pressure [from Russia]. And I’m not just talking about the capacity of their armies. I mean the institutional capacity, whether it’s the banking system, the financial system, the social systems, the transportation system, if they would continue to function under such circumstances,” Chentsov said.
“It’s also a sign of our maturity as a country and a society to withstand pressure, to learn fast, to adapt. And I’m sure we’re learning fast. We can move forward.”