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EU makes 11-hour push to agree Russia oil sanctions

EU makes 11-hour push to agree Russia oil sanctions

European Union flags fly outside the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Top European Union diplomats meet on Monday in a last-ditch effort to agree on Russia’s oil import sanctions before their leaders meet later in the day, in a bid to avoid a split over the bloc’s response to the EU decision. The war in Ukraine.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, sounded a hopeful note ahead of the two-day summit in Brussels, where the leaders of the 27 countries will have few tangible results if the impasse over the oil embargo derails a broader package of sanctions on the table.

“I think this afternoon we will be able to present an agreement to the heads of member states,” Borrell told France Info.

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Ambassadors on Sunday failed to agree on a proposal that would ban deliveries of Russian oil to European Union countries by sea by the end of this year, but exclude oil delivered via a pipeline that supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

European Union leaders will announce their continued support for Ukraine to help it fend off Russia’s offensive and will discuss how to deal with the impact of the conflict, particularly the rise in energy prices and the impending food supply crisis.

However, the talks will be overshadowed by their month-long struggle to agree a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow.

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“After Russia’s attack on Ukraine we have seen what can happen when Europe stands united,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday. “With the summit expected tomorrow, let’s hope it continues like this. But it has already started to crumble and collapse again.” Read more

Other elements in the latest package of sanctions include cutting Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank (SBMX.MM)of the SWIFT messaging system, banned Russian broadcasters from the European Union and added more people to the list whose assets had been frozen.

A tangible outcome of the summit will be agreement on a package of EU loans worth 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion), with a small grant component to cover part of the interest, for Ukraine to keep its government going and pay wages of around two. months.

A decision on how to raise funds will be made later.

According to draft summit outcomes seen by Reuters, the leaders will also support the creation of an international fund to rebuild post-war Ukraine, details to be determined later, and will address the legally fraught issue of confiscating frozen Russian assets. This purpose.

Leaders will pledge to speed up work to help Ukraine transport its grain out of the country to global buyers via rail and truck as the Russian Navy closes regular sea routes and takes steps to become more independent of Russian energy faster.

The draft showed that leaders will explore ways to curb rising energy prices, including the feasibility of setting temporary price caps, to cut red tape on deploying renewables and invest in connecting national power grids across borders to better help each other.

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Editing by Edmund Blair

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.