EU not united, failed over fresh sanctions on Russia
While the European Union countries are still looking for expanding sanctions against Russia, one member, Hungary, refuses, and unanimity from all 27 members is required.
EU foreign ministers failed to reach a decision on sanctions against Russia's oil and gas, but agreed to continue discussions, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said following a meeting of the EU Foreign Council in Luxembourg.
"We continue discussing about how to implement these sanctions to avoid any kind of loopholes. We measure the impact these sanctions are having on the Russian economy, and we will continue discussing in order to see what else can be done. Nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas, but today no decision was taken, just a general discussion analyzing the figures," he said.
EU foreign ministers started Monday discussions on the sixth round of sanctions, but a consensus was very difficult to reach by all members.
European Union's top chief, Josep Borell, noted that "discussing about Ukraine means certainly to discuss about the effectiveness of our sanctions,"
In a meeting with the foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Borell said that "certainly ministers will discuss which are the further steps," after the five rounds of sanctions that were already held since Russia's special military operation in Ukraine.
The fifth round of sanctions included a ban on Russian coal imports into the EU -- a step that could become a wider ban on energy supplies.
Several ministers who attended Monday's meeting favored the maximalist approach that would involve banning Russian oil and gas.
However, maintaining EU consensus is an inevitable step, and the sanctions require unanimity from all 27 member states.
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister who rejected joining the trend of expanding anti-Russian sanctions, still refuses to take the sanctions further, standing as an obstacle to the expansion of energy sanctions.
Another obstacle is Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, and some other EU countries' dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.
Importing oil from Russia helps 'financing this war'
Talks over cutting the access to Russian oil were "very difficult for some member states," as per Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
However, Coveney told reporters that "the European Union is spending hundreds of millions of euros on importing oil from Russia that is certainly contributing to financing this war."
"In our view, we need to cut off that financing of war, even though it creates huge challenges and problems."
According to Borrell, the Kremlin has made more than 35 billion euros ($38 billion) in gas, oil, and coal sales to the European Union.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin does not object to the expansion of the sanctions, but emphasized the need for EU unity to facilitate their adoption.
"We have already made clear as the German federal government that there will be a complete withdrawal from fossil energy, starting with coal, then oil and gas," Baerbock told reporters.
"In order to implement this together in the European Union, we need a jointly agreed plan to phase out fossil energies completely in the European Union."
Some ministers expressed their support for the sanctions so explicitly, such as Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, who asked, "What needs to happen (for the) EU to have an embargo on oil and gas and other commodities?" adding that his country wants to witness the "toughest sanctions we can implement on Russia."
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis agreed with Lipavsky, and said, "Go to Bucha and see for yourselves why do we need to impose sanctions," referring to civilians killed in Bucha allegedly by Russian forces before they left the area. On the matter, the Russian Ministry of Defense said they were yet another provocation, adding that all Russian units completely withdrew from the town in which the crimes allegedly took place as early as March 30, a day ahead of the talks between Moscow and Kiev in Turkey.
The ministers were also expected Monday to agree to release an additional 500 million euros ($550 million) to finance fresh weapons deliveries to Kiev.