Leading Ukrainian and international campaigners have written to the European Council to demand that the EU implements a full and immediate embargo on all Russian fossil fuels.
Writing in advance of the EU energy ministers’ meeting on Friday 30/09/2022, the campaigners say that Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine has made it clear that European money can no longer be used to fund Russia’s “genocidal war”.
In her State of the Union Address, EU President Ursula von der Leyen boasted that Europe had imposed the “toughest sanctions in history” on Russia. In their letter, campaigners from Ukrainian group Razom We Stand, a group behind the Stand With Ukraine coalition and human rights watchdog Global Witness point out that “Of all vessels carrying Russian fossil fuels worldwide in July, 62% were owned by EU-registered shipping companies […]. Having a dominant role in maritime logistics and insurance, Europe has the leverage to dramatically limit the global trade in Russian oil, effectively cutting off a major financial flow that feeds Putin’s regime.”
The groups say that EU firms facilitating oil sales to third party countries are acting as recruiting sergeants for Putin: “Vessels belonging to European companies have provided increased supplies of Russian oil to India, the Middle East, and Egypt in recent months. Increased oil trade with those countries also creates unwanted political links and alliances, elevating support for Russia in recipient countries.”
“We clearly see that Putin is prepared to take the next brutal step in the escalation of genocidal fossil fueled war, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives in Ukraine. With Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons it can claim much more lives, and not only in Ukraine. Effective and bold political response is needed urgently. We call on the European Commission and EU member states to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to the 8th sanctions package in the face of this threat. Russia’s ability to wage war must be put on ice with consistent energy sanctions immediately”, said Svitlana Romanko, Founder and Director of Razom We Stand NGO.
Louis Wilson, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, said: “The EU must immediately apply sanctions to the import and trade of Russian oil and gas, to deprive Putin of the ability to weaponize energy supply to Europe and to wage war”.
The open letter came as campaigners unveiled a billboard outside the European Parliament, clearly showing the link between Europe’s continued trade in Russian oil and the bloodshed in Ukraine. Since Putin’s invasion, EU countries have spent more than €90bn on Russian fossil fuels.
The letter was addressed to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, President of the European Council Charles Michel and energy ministers of EU member states.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of this year, over 850 organizations from more than 60 countries have joined the Stand With Ukraine campaign calling for effective global sanctions on the Russian fossil fuel trade, and for an immediate end for any investments in Russian oil, gas and coal production.