EU countries yet to reach agreement on fresh sanctions against Russia

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European Council president Charles Michel speaks in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

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EU member states are still trying to overcome their differences as they look to approve a fifth round of sanctions against Russia.

The measures proposed by the European Commission yesterday include a ban on coal imports and the closure of European ports to Russian ships.

But according to diplomatic sources, some member states that are more dependent than others on coal, are asking for a three months phase out for existing contracts, rather than an immediate embargo.

For Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, a Greek MEP from the EPP Group, the impact of sanctions in Europe should also be taken into account when considering any punitive measures against Moscow.

“We are faced with an unconscionable war and we need to exert the maximum amount of pressure,” Asimakopoulou told Euronews. “That means sanctions and more sanctions, and whatever it takes.

“At the same time, we have to remember that we are also responsible for our security, our energy sufficiency and security, and our food security. So we cannot jeopardise that.”

Many other MEPs want to go further, however. During a debate in the European Parliament, European Council President Charles Michel said sanctions on Russian oil and gas are likely to be needed eventually.

“We must close the loopholes. We must target any attempt to circumvent sanctions and we are ready to move quickly,” Michel said on Wednesday.

“We have further coordinated robust sanctions. The new package includes a ban on coal imports. And ladies and gentlemen, I think that measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later.”

Hungary, which has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, is now the most reluctant country to impose sanctions on oil and gas.

Germany and Austria, who were previously in the same camp, now seem to be moving in the other direction.

EU ambassadors will meet on Thursday in an attempt to bridge the gaps and reach a final agreement.

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