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Russian oil ban: Slovakia can’t accept EU’s current sanctions plan

Slovakia’s Energy Minister Karol Galek has warned his country will not be able to agree to the European Commission’s current blueprint for a ban on Russian oil imports and called for more time to find alternative fuel supplies.

Speaking to POLITICO, he said Slovakia is not opposed to the sanctions and wants to agree to measures to put pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime. But the proposal from the Commission to give Slovakia and Hungary an extra year to adapt to the oil ban is not enough, he said.

Under the Commission proposals, the EU will sanction Russian oil, banning crude imports within six months and refined products by the end of the year. A special exemption was drafted for landlocked Slovakia and Hungary, giving them until the end of 2023 to comply, because they are so reliant on Russian oil.

“This is unfortunately not enough,” Galek said. “We are expecting at least three years.”

A key refinery requires heavy Russian oil and alternative supplies will not be viable on the proposed timetable, he explained.

By the end of 2025, the switch away from Russian oil should be possible: “This is the time when we will be able to make the pipeline stronger. And to change the technology.” But even this deadline would be tight, he said.

Galek stressed the current proposal would not just hurt energy supplies for Slovakia, but also for Austria, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. “This will destroy our European economy,” he said.

EU countries are currently discussing the Commission’s plan for a sixth package of Russia sanctions. Hungary has already expressed reservations. The plan needs unanimous agreement to proceed.

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