The measures were announced Tuesday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and still need approval from all 27 EU member states.
“We have all seen the gruesome images of Bucha and other areas that Russian troops have recently departed from,” von der Leyen said in a statement. “These atrocities cannot and will not go unanswered.”
“We will impose a ban on coal imports from Russia worth 4 billion euros [$4.4 billion] per year, “he added.
If approved, the coal ban would be the European Union’s first coordinated embargo on the massive energy exports that fuel the Russian economy and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue each year.
EU leaders have so far been unable to agree to target Russian energy due to the risk it poses to the region’s economy at a time of skyrocketing natural gas and fuel prices. But the mood seems to have changed this week. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that he would support a total ban on Russian imports of oil and coal, and Germany indicated on Tuesday that it could support a coal ban.
“Russia is waging a cruel and merciless war in Ukraine, not only against its brave troops but also against its civilian population,” said the journalist von der Leyen. “At this point it is important to sustain extreme pressure on Putin and the Russian government”.
According to the IEA, Russia was the world’s third largest coal exporter in 2020, behind Australia and Indonesia. It is also the leading exporter of thermal coal to the European Union, ahead of China and South Korea.
Coal prices in Europe have already risen in anticipation of potential sanctions. Rotterdam’s coal futures, the regional benchmark, have more than doubled since the start of the year to around $ 295 per tonne.
“Sanctioning coal will make life much more difficult for European public utilities, which consume a lot of Russian coal, but energy companies can do it, and politicians believe this is an easier public sale because it fits well with the overall and overall green transition. acceleration of the EU “. Henning Gloystein, Eurasia Group’s director of energy, climate and resources, told CNN Business.
The fifth round of sanctions also includes a total ban on transactions with the second Russian bank VTB and three other lenders. Ships registered or operated by Russia would be banned from EU ports, with exemptions granted to ships carrying energy, food and other humanitarian aid.
Exports of technology and other sensitive equipment worth 10 billion euros (11 billion dollars), such as quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, would be banned. And EU countries would also block imports of 5.5 billion (US $ 6 billion) worth of products such as wood, cement, seafood and spirits.
“But that’s not all. We are working on additional sanctions, including oil imports, and we are reflecting on some of the ideas presented by Member States, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account,” von der Leyen added.
Russian oil has already been banned from the US and UK, and a broader de facto embargo has taken hold as banks, traders, shippers and insurance companies try to avoid falling into financial sanctions. The International Energy Agency says Russia may be forced to limit its production by 3 million barrels a day starting this month as it struggles to find buyers.
—Anna 58,1an contributed to this article.