Europeans ready for Russian coal embargo

An open-pit coal mine in Kemerovo, Russia, in 2015.

The atrocities committed by the Russian army in Boutcha, Ukraine, quickly moved the lines within the Western camp. While the United States and Canada announced new sanctions to come against Moscow, Paris and Berlin decided, Monday, April 4, to follow a movement started last week in several countries of the European Union (EU) by expelling massively Russian diplomats suspected of espionage. Thirty-five of them will leave France because of “their activities contrary to the interest [du pays] »around 40 more will have to leave Germany because they would pose a threat to people seeking protection, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Lithuania has announced the expulsion of the Russian ambassador and the recall of its ambassador to Moscow. Spain has seized, in Palma de Mallorca, the yacht of the oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, targeted by American sanctions – but not European at this stage. Finland boarded three Russian ships loaded with goods targeted by European sanctions, while Poland advocated a visa ban for all Russian citizens, a measure that Warsaw hopes to see debated at European level.

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Before last weekend, the EU-27 were preparing a fifth package of sanctions, which should, for example, aim at banning exports to Russia of certain technological goods and stopping imports into the Union of certain Russian materials, but also provide for the freezing of assets for new oligarchs or relatives of Vladimir Putin, as well as for companies, including banks.

Adding an energy component to sanctions

During the weekend, the capitals and the Commission – which is responsible for proposing sanctions which must then be endorsed by the Member States – discussed whether it was possible to increase the measures and add an energy component, or whether it was appropriate to take a little more time. Monday April 4 in the morning, on France Inter, Emmanuel Macron said to himself “favorable” until the EU decides on an embargo on Russian oil and coal.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Yannick Jadot: “We can and must decide on an embargo on Russian gas and oil”

Finally, on the evening of Monday April 4, it seemed certain that the Europeans were ready to take a first step by deciding on a coal embargo. It remained to be decided when the measure would apply precisely, while boats were already on their way to European ports and the interruption of certain contracts requires a transition period.

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