BRUSSELS: The EU formally adopted a ban on most Russian oil imports on Friday, hitting Moscow with its toughest sanctions over the war on Ukraine after weeks of wrangling with Hungary.
The sanctions — the sixth wave imposed by the 27-nation bloc since the Kremlin launched the invasion in February — include cutting Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank from the global SWIFT messaging system, the text published in the EU’s official journal said.
President Vladimir Putin’s alleged girlfriend, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, was also added to an assets freeze and visa ban blacklist, along with Russian army personnel suspected of war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
EU leaders agreed to target Russia’s key oil exports on Monday after weeks of resistance from Hungary, ceding to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s demand to exempt Russian oil delivered by pipeline.
The sanctions cover the two-thirds of Russian exports currently being brought in by ship and come into full force in six months for crude oil and eight months for refined products.
Germany and Poland have further committed to stop receiving deliveries by pipeline — meaning that some 90 percent of EU imports of Russian oil are expected to be halted by the end of the year.
In a bid to prevent Hungary and other countries that will still receive Russian pipeline oil from profiting from their exemption, there is a ban on reselling the cheaper supplies.
The bloc is also looking to curb Moscow’s ability to sell the oil outside the EU by banning financial institutions from insuring and financing ships carrying it to third countries.
The EU imported more than a quarter of its oil from Russia before the war and has been accused of not moving fast enough to stop funds flowing to Moscow’s war machine, after now 100 days of fighting.