European Union foreign ministers discussed the bloc’s efforts to pressure Russia’s economy with sanctions on Monday, including the possibility of further energy sanctions, but no decisions were made.
“Nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell following the meeting in Luxembourg. “But today no decision was taken.”
The EU approved a fifth package of sanctions against Russia last Friday which included the first significant ban on imports of Russian energy – coal. However the bloc remains deeply divided over whether to advance with further energy import bans, starting with oil.
A senior EU official briefed on Monday’s discussions said there was little detailed discussion of the options on Monday and no progress in narrowing the divide within the bloc. A group of countries, led by Germany, oppose a speedy cut-off of oil imports. Others, led by Poland, are urging the bloc to stop purchasing Russian energy.
Mr. Borrell noted the “asymmetric shock” that further energy sanctions would have on some countries within the bloc which are heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas. “It has to be managed combining unity and solidarity,” he said.
EU officials say it could still be several weeks before the European Commission presents a proposal on a new round of sanctions, although the timing will ultimately depend on events in Ukraine.
The foreign ministers met Monday morning in Luxembourg with the prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, to discuss efforts to investigate potential war crimes in Ukraine.
Several member states, including Sweden’s foreign minister, said on Monday they were ready to help fund the ICC’s work. In addition, Mr. Borrell said the EU’s aid mission in Ukraine was helping authorities collate evidence of war crimes. The EU re-opened its mission in Kyiv last weekend.
A team of French special police with expertise in forensics has already arrived in Ukraine to help investigate war crimes.