PARIS, France – France supports extending sanctions to ban imports of Russian oil, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, said Tuesday.
‘When you see what is going on in the Donbas, it is more necessary than ever to stop importing Russian oil’, Le Maire told radio station Europe 1.
Le Maire went on to say that it was oil, not gas, that has been ‘the first source of currency for Putin’s regime for several years’, and therefore ‘stopping Russian oil imports means hurting the financing of the war in Ukraine for those who are in power in Russia’.
France was attempting to persuade European partners to stop imports of Russian oil, Le Maire added, alleging that some countries were ‘hesitant’ to do so.
‘The reason that we are not there yet isn’t because France does not wish it’, Le Maire said. ‘It is because there are still certain European partners who are hesitant’.
Speaking earlier this month to CNN, Le Maire said: ‘As France is concerned we stand ready to go further and to decide a ban on oil and I’m deeply convinced that the next steps and the next discussion will focus on this question of the ban on Russian oil’.
Earlier this month, European leaders agreed to go after Russia’s vast energy sector for the first time by banning all forms of Russian coal from the European Union. The European Commission predicted the move would affect about 8 billion euros ($8,7 billion) worth of Russian exports per year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated his call for an oil embargo, saying on April 8: ‘How much longer can the Europe ignore the introduction of an embargo against oil supplies from Russia?’.
The European Commission says that about 45% of the bloc’s natural gas imports, and around 25% of its oil imports, come from Russia. The EU has imported about 35 billion euros ($38 billion) worth of Russian energy since the war began.