EU agrees Russian oil price cap in latest sanctions package
Russia's oil exports are set to be capped after the European Union's 27 member states agreed on a new sanctions package on Wednesday.
The move hopes to deliver a blow to Russia's oil revenues amid its ongoing war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin's move to illegally annex partly occupied territories in the embattled country.
What is in the latest sanctions package?
The Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, announced that a "political agreement" on the bloc's eighth sanctions package against Moscow had been reached.
"The package contains: Prohibition of maritime transport of Russian oil to third countries above the oil price cap and a ban on related services," the Czech Republic said in a statement on Twitter.
Other measures within the package include expanding curbs on Russian goods, including cigarettes, steel products, paper, machinery and other goods.
Providing IT, engineering and legal services "to Russian entities" would also be banned.
The package must still go through a final approval process. If no objections arise, the sanctions will be published and go into effect on Thursday.
How has the package been received?
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the agreement on the sanctions package.
"We will never accept Putin's sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine. We are determined to continue making the Kremlin pay," she wrote on Twitter.
A more reserved response came from Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who criticized the number of exemptions included in the latest package.
"The time for strong packages is over, and when reading the documents presented, one sometimes has the impression that there are more exceptions than sanctions," he told Lithuanian radio on Wednesday.
"Nevertheless, it is better than nothing, than no package at all," he said, adding: "We are making progress, albeit rather weakly."
Previous sanctions measures targeting Russian energy snagged on opposition from some EU member states, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
Hungary, Greece, Malta and Cyprus lifted their reservations on the latest sanctions package after securing amendments and exemptions, diplomats familiar with the talks told German news agency dpa.
How would the oil price cap impact Russia?
The most significant development in the latest sanctions package is the cap on Russian oil prices.
The move would bar the transportation of Russian oil that was priced above a certain level to countries outside of the European Union.
An oil price cap was previously backed by the G7 group of the world's leading economies.
In enacting such a cap, the EU hopes to make Moscow sell its oil abroad for less, particularly to large overseas customers such as India.
The result would reduce Russia's energy profits, which the Ukrainian government says it is using to fund the war.
rs/nm (dpa, Reuters, AFP)