Belgium’s phasing-out of Russian oil must happen gradually, said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Wednesday in response to the 6th package of sanctions proposed by the European Commission.
De Croo said, “The last thing we want is to punish our citizens for a war that no one has asked for.”
Although, he did not mention details about Belgium’s financial compensation if energy prices continue rising due to the sanctions.
The prime minister called for European solidarity, stressing that “if the sanctions are taken collectively, we also have to look at how collective compensation can be allocated.” He underlines the need for European unity in negotiations to ensure that the Member States share an equal burden.
The EU wants to end energy imports from Russia within six months and gasoline in nine. Hungary and Slovakia will be exempt from the proposal as both are completely dependent on Russian energy.
Brussels will also target Russia’s financial sector by excluding one of Russia’s biggest banks, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments system. In addition, war criminals in Bucha will be “listed” to be held accountable, and Russian state-owned broadcasters will be banned in the EU in an effort to limit Russian propaganda.
By cutting revenue to Russia from energy exports, it is hoped that this will be the most effective way of forcing Moscow to withdraw military forces from Ukraine.
However, it is feared that a ban on Russian energy export could make already soaring oil and gas prices even higher.