G7 countries pledge to stop Russia oil imports
The G7 club of wealthy nations committed Sunday (8 May) to phasing out its dependency on Russian oil and issued a scathing statement accusing President Vladimir Putin of bringing “shame” on Russia with his invasion of Ukraine.
The statement from the Group of Seven – France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States – did not specify exactly what commitments each country will make to move away from Russian energy.
But it was an important development in the ongoing campaign to pressure Putin by crippling Russia’s economy, and underscores the unity of the international community against Moscow’s actions.
“We commit to phase out our dependency on Russian energy, including by phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil. We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly fashion, and in ways that provide time for the world to secure alternative supplies,” the joint statement said.
“This will hit hard at the main artery of Putin’s economy and deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war,” the White House said.
EU progress on proposed Russian oil ban, no deal yet
The announcement came as the G7 held its third meeting of the year on Sunday via video conference, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participating.
The West has so far displayed close coordination in its announcements of sanctions against Russia, but has not moved at the same pace when it comes to Russian oil and gas.
The United States, which was not a major consumer of Russian hydrocarbons, has already banned their import.
But Europe is far more reliant on Russian oil. Bulgaria on Sunday threatened not to support EU’s new set of sanctions against Russia if the Balkan country does not get a derogation from the proposed ban on buying Russian oil.
Landlocked Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which all depend heavily on Russian crude delivered via Soviet-era pipelines, face a challenge to secure alternative sources and have also asked for a derogation from the ban.
To get all EU members on board, the European Commission proposed changes on Friday to its planned embargo on Russian oil to give the three countries more time to shift their energy supplies, EU sources said.
“We still have work to finalise, in a spirit of solidarity, the guarantees which are necessary for the oil supply conditions of the Member States which currently find themselves in a very specific situation with regard to supply by pipeline from Russia,” the French presidency of the EU and the Commission said in a statement.
Under the initial plan, all EU countries would stop buying Russian crude within six months and Russian refined products by the end of the year.
The tweaked proposal would give Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic help to upgrade their refineries to process oil from elsewhere and delay their exit from Russian oil to 2024.
There would also be a three-month transition before banning EU shipping services from transporting Russian oil, instead of one month as initially proposed, to address concerns raised by Greece, Malta and Cyprus about their shipping companies, one of the sources added.
The European Union has already said it is aiming to cut its reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds this year, though Germany has opposed calls for a full boycott, with member states continuing intense negotiations on May 8.
The G7 also slammed Putin personally for his actions in Ukraine.
The Russian president’s “unprovoked war of aggression” against its Eastern European neighbour has brought “shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people,” the group said in its statement.
“Russia has violated the international rules-based order, particularly the UN Charter, conceived after the Second World War to spare successive generations from the scourge of war,” the statement continued.