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EU envoys approve Russia sanctions, with oil ban set to become law

EU ambassadors finally approved the bloc’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia Thursday, multiple EU diplomats said, paving the way for the ban on oil shipments to become law.

Leaders agreed on a package of sanctions on Monday night after weeks of haggling over a planned oil embargo. To get landlocked Hungary on board, they decided to restrict the ban to Russian oil that arrives on tankers, temporarily exempting fuel flowing into the EU via pipelines.

In an apparently new concession to Hungary, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, was struck out of the list of sanctioned individuals. Hungary had called for the Patriarch to be taken off the list, holding up a deal on Wednesday.

The legal text also gives Bulgaria and Croatia additional time to wean themselves off Russian oil.

During their meeting on Thursday afternoon, envoys from the EU’s member states approved the text in general. It will still have to be formally approved in writing, which is expected to be concluded by tomorrow morning. After that the sanctions enter into force once it’s published in the bloc’s official journal.

An EU diplomat welcomed the agreement, but said that “Hungarian hostage policy is awful.”

The sanctions package includes other penalties, such as kicking Sberbank, Russia’s largest consumer bank, out of the SWIFT international payment system.

Suzanne Lynch contributed reporting.

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