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The waiting game: When will the EU agree to sanctions on Russian oil?

EU ambassadors will discuss tougher action against Russia over the Ukraine war on Wednesday — but if they were hoping for details of the emerging plan to sanction Russian oil, they are set to be disappointed.

The European Commission is drawing up proposals for a sixth package of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime, which is set to include measures against Russia’s oil industry, profits from which are crucial to financing the invasion.

The sanctions plan was expected to be presented to EU countries early this week, but a meeting of envoys scheduled for Wednesday is now not likely to be given a run-down of the draft, four diplomats said after preparatory talks today.

EU ambassadors haven’t even discussed the next package yet in bilateral meetings with the Commission president’s head of Cabinet, Björn Seibert, as they did during previous rounds, diplomats said.

“The longer this takes, the less likely it is for the next package to be presented this week,” one EU diplomat said, adding that countries were being left in the dark on the exact timing of the Commission, which traditionally prepares and presents the sanctions to EU countries.

“The Commission has to look for the right balance between a package which is solid enough on the one hand but on the other hand workable for the more reluctant countries,” the diplomat said.

Germany and Hungary have been the most vocal opponents of an immediate, full-blown ban on Russian oil amid fears that such action would badly damage their own economies.

Another EU diplomat said the proposed package of sanctions would come “next week at the earliest.” Others refrained from predicting the timing, adding that much will depend on the political messages of EU ambassadors at Wednesday’s meeting.

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