Boycott of Russian oil "quickly" possible, but will have little effect, Dutch PM says
A boycott of Russian oil could happen "quite quickly," said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a parliamentary debate about the upcoming summit of EU leaders. Parliament is calling for such a ban. According to Rutte, however, it won't have a massive effect.
The EU has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. It is becoming more and more complicated to come up with new punitive measures, Rutte said. EU leaders will discuss further sanctions on Thursday and Friday in hopes of ending the war.
The Cabinet has "no taboos" when it comes to sanctions. But a boycott of Russian gas is not possible for the time being because the EU is still too dependent on Russia. Gas suppliers must first be found elsewhere so that the EU can quickly become less dependent on Russian gas.
Banning oil imports is difficult for Eastern Europe because their refineries depend on Russian oil, Rutte said. He called an oil boycott the "lowest hanging fruit." It won't yield much because, according to Rutte, Russians can easily store the oil elsewhere, for example, in India.
There is also talk in the EU about closing the ports to Russian ships. Rutte believes that this must be done EU-wide. The EU leaders must also consider what should happen with ships that bring food to or from Russia, according to him.
Parliament wants a boycott because the Russian army is financed with oil money. "We need to hit Putin's war fund," said Mustafa Amhaouch (CDA). A motion by PvdA parliamentarian Kati Piri calling on the Cabinet to commit to an oi boycott and phasing out Russian oil imports at the EU level received support from a large majority.
Parliament also believes that sanctions legislation should be expanded. Currently, only trust offices and financial institutions have to report that they are freezing assets. The MPs also want to look into a reporting obligation for businesses. A motion from the D66 asked that this be done within two months.
Reporting by ANP