Paolo Gentiloni stated to the Italian media, that Brussels wants Russia to be hurt but it is not trying too hard.
The EU is still discussing sanctions against Russia for the current military operations in Ukraine, but they have not included a ban on Russian gaz. This was revealed by Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner of Economy.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa published on Saturday, Gentiloni said that while no punitive measures were off the table for the European Commission, “We aren’t talking today about a gas embargo.”
He noted that Brussels is seeking to strike the right balance between hurting Russia’s economy as much as possible and minimizing the secondary effects on European economies.
Gentiloni acknowledged that, despite the EU’s efforts, the sanctions have taken a toll on Europe as well. Nevertheless, he believes the bloc had no other choice but to respond to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine “Economic weapons”
However, the commissioner warned against believing that sanctions alone can resolve conflicts.
The sixth round of EU sanctions on Moscow, which was approved on Thursday and includes an embargo on some crude oil imports to the EU, “In any event, this will have devastating effects on Russia’s economy and its power.” Gentiloni said.
Since Russia launched its military campaign in late February, Ukraine along with Poland and the Baltic states have been calling on the EU to phase out Russian gas, accusing Brussels of effectively financing the Kremlin’s military machine. Germany, a key importer and exporter of Russian natural gaz, has been the subject of a lot criticism.
Berlin is not imposing any additional restrictions on Russian imports of Russian gas, but it has frozen Nord Stream 2’s gas pipeline indefinitely. Responding to critics, German government officials and representatives of the country’s business community argue that if Germany stopped buying Russian gas overnight, it would deal a devastating blow to the economy.
EU officials proposed a total embargo of Russian oil after banning Russian coal imports to the bloc early in April. Hungarians, who are heavily dependent upon Russian gas imports through the Druzhba pipe, resisted this proposal fiercely.
The unanimous support required by all 27 member countries is needed for decisions such as these. The European Commission ultimately relented, exempting Russian oil imports via Druzhba for Hungary and Slovakia.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, signed late March a decree ordering that all countries that had placed sanctions on Moscow, pay for Russian gas in rubles or have their supplies cut.
Some countries, including Germany and Italy, allowed their operators to open ruble accounts in Russia’s Gazprombank to pay for gas.
Poland, Bulgarian, Finland and the Netherlands did not comply with this request, so Moscow stopped all deliveries.