Sanctions, dispute overshadow meeting of EU foreign ministers

Sanctions, dispute overshadow meeting of EU foreign ministers

Biden and Putin

A meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers is being overshadowed by an ongoing dispute within the bloc about new sanctions on Russia.

The ministers, on Monday gathered with Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba to discuss war developments.

However, the question of an import ban on Russian oil, proposed almost two weeks ago, is still splitting the group.

Hungary, a country heavily dependent on Russian oil, has been refusing to agree to the oil ban, demanding far-reaching concessions, including financial aid and more time to implement the embargo.

“The whole European Union is being held hostage by one member state who cannot help us find consensus,’’ Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis said while arriving at the meeting.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said he will continue to try to build consensus.

Kuleba had already warned EU states on Friday that excluding the oil ban from new sanctions would give Russian President Vladimir Putin reason to celebrate.

Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had been offered more time to implement the embargo, but the needed approval by all the 27 EU countries is still lacking.
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EU foreign ministers are also expected to approve another 500 million euro (520 million dollars) for the delivery of weapons and other military equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces, raising the EU’s total financial assistance to Ukraine’s army to 2 billion euro.

Monday’s meeting in Brussels is also attended by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and the foreign ministers of several Western Balkan countries.

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