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PM Marin welcomes Russia oil ban as "significant step"

The ban applies to all Russian crude oil and other refined oil transported by sea, but does not affect pipeline oil imports, at least for now, following opposition from Hungary.

The decision to partially ban the importing of oil is part of a sixth package of sanctions by the EU against Russia. Image: Paul Martens / EPA

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has welcomed a deal agreed by EU leaders on Monday in Brussels to block more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports coming into the union.

"We reached a compromise and we remain united on an issue that has been difficult to negotiate," Marin said.

The ban applies to all Russian crude oil and other refined oil transported by sea, but does not affect pipeline oil imports, at least for now, following opposition from Hungary.

However, Marin further noted that up to 90 percent of Russian oil could be banned from entering the EU by the end of this year when Germany and Poland plan to stop imports.

"It is a significant step forward in sanctions," she added.

In March, the PM made news when she said the EU needed to end its dependency on Russian oil.

Hungary needs more time

Hungary, which is dependent on Russian pipeline oil, had been concerned about the impact of sanctions on the country's security of supply, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pushing for the import of pipeline oil to be permitted even if other sanctions were imposed.

EU leaders remained tightlipped after the meeting about the length of the transition periods promised to Hungary and other countries such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was important EU member states were given time to break away from Russian oil.

She noted however that the exemption is not a permanent solution.

"We'll get back to it one way or another," Von der Leyen said.

EU's sixth sanctions package

The decision to partially ban the importing of oil is part of a sixth package of sanctions by the EU against Russia, and took weeks of political wrangling to reach a deal.

In addition to oil, the sixth sanctions package will also hit Russian banks, state-owned media companies and individuals found guilty of war crimes. Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, will also be cut off from the SWIFT payments system.

The European Council, which represents the EU member states, has yet to take a formal decision on the adoption of new sanctions, but a final decision could be made as early as Wednesday.

"Some technical details are still being worked out, but a huge agreement has now been reached and will mean that oil will be covered by the import ban," Marin told Yle.

EU leaders also backed a 9 billion euros emergency financial assistance package for Ukraine, which Marin explained consists mainly of grants.

The European Council meeting is scheduled to continue on Tuesday, where EU leaders are expected to discuss the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine as well as the EU's security situation.

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