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  • Writer's pictureThomas Cole

Russia oil ban in the balance at EU summit

Hungarian PM still blocking deal as EU leaders look for agreement

There was uncertainty over whether EU leaders would agree to sanctioning Russian oil, as they met for talks on Ukraine on Monday.

Heading into the 2 day meeting, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, played down the chances of a break-through. "My expectations are low that it will be solved in the next 48 hours", she said, speaking to journalists.

Watch: European Commission President has low expectations on EU agreement on sanctioning Russian oil

However, European Council President, Charles Michel, struck a more upbeat tone, suggesting that a deal could be reached.

"I am confident that we will be able to take the decision all together" Charles Michel, European Council President

Watch: European Council President confident that a deal on a Russian oil embargo could be reached

Orban blames Commission if oil deal not possible

Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who has been holding out against an embargo on Russian oil, blamed the Commission if the talks failed. "The responsibility of not having an agreement today will be on the shoulder of the Commission" he said entering the meeting.

Watch: Hungarian PM blames European Commission it talks on an oil embargo fail

Dutch PM puts deal in perspective as Latvian PM says "no compromise" with Putin.

Meanwhile, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, struck a more conciliatory tone. He felt that a deal could be struck and that as an effect, it would reduce Russian oil exports by 66%.

Separately, his Latvian counterpart, Krisjanis Karins, told reporters that could be "no compromise" with Vladimir Putin on the war in Ukraine, adding that "the right compromise is for Russia to lose the war."

"The right compromise is for Russia to lose the war" Latvian Prime Minister, Krisjanis Karins

If agreed, deal would be EU's 6th sanctions package

The European Union has already agreed 5 previous rounds or "packages" of sanctions against Russia.

Ursula von der Leyen, proposed the current round of sanctions, including an oil embargo against Russia, at the beginning of the month.

EU member states have already approved sanctions on Russian coal imports. However, there has been push-back by some member state, notably Hungary, against an oil embargo.

In order for the EU to agree to new sanctions, all 27 member states will have to approve them.

29% of EU oil from Russia

In 2020, the EU imported 29% of its oil from Russia . In the case of some member states, this figure is higher. For example, in Hungary it is close to 45% where Viktor Orban, has been keen to avoid his country taking an economic hit over any sanctions imposed on Russia. In Slovakia, the figure is even higher, coming close to 80% of all oil imports.

The war in Ukraine is close to entering its 100th day, following the Russian invasion on 24 February.

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