Moscow calls EU move to phase out Russian oil ‘self-destructive’

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June 2 (Reuters) – Russia warned on Thursday that the European Union’s decision to partially phase out Russian oil would likely destabilize global energy markets, calling it a ‘self-destructive’ step that could backfire on the bloc.

EU leaders agreed in principle on Monday to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of this year, the bloc’s toughest sanctions yet since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. 

“The European Union’s decisions to partially phase out Russian oil and oil products, as well as to ban insurance on Russian merchant ships, are highly likely to provoke further price increases, destabilize energy markets, and disrupt supply chains,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The EU has hit Russia with multiple rounds of sanctions since it invaded Ukraine in February, demonstrating uncharacteristic speed and unity given the complexity of the measures.

European Council President Charles Michel said the move to phase out Russian oil would deprive Moscow of a huge source of financing and put pressure on it to end its military campaign, but Moscow warned that the measures would end up harming the bloc’s economy.

“Brussels and its political sponsors in Washington bear full responsibility for the risk of an exacerbation in global food and energy issues caused by the illegitimate actions of the European Union,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

Germany must work harder to reduce its energy-dependence on Russia but western sanctions in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are still taking a heavy toll on the Russian war machine, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Thursday.

“The Russian economy is collapsing,” Habeck told lawmakers, adding that exports to Russia from Germany had dropped by 60% in March with an even sharper fall expected in April.

“Putin is still getting money but … time is not working for Russia, it is working against Russia,” the minister said.

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