Economic warfare between Russia and the West escalated yesterday, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to seize portions of Russian energy revenues from gas and oil importers to pay for the future building of Ukraine.
Money will be diverted from Russian energy companies to a special account, set aside to be used for aid to the war-torn country at a later date.
The proposal was made in a meeting with European Union (EU) ambassadors, who were meeting to discuss a ban on Russian coal imports and a possible timetable for a future oil embargo.
She said: “These sanctions will not be our last sanctions. Yes, we have now banned coal but now we have to look into oil. And we’ll have to look into the revenues that Russia gets from these fossil fuels. We really have to make an effort.”
Europe’s outlook towards Russia has hardened in recent weeks, with widespread reports of Russian forces executing civilians alongside demands – now signed into law – from the Kremlin for overseas buyers to pay for energy supplies in roubles.
Overall, the trading bloc has spent €19.8bn on Russian oil, coal and gas since the country invade Ukraine – considerably more than the €1bn in aid the EU has provided to Kyiv.
Charles Michel, chairman of EU leaders, also warned the bloc will eventually have to introduce measures against imports of Russian oil and gas to put sufficient pressure on Russia to end its invasion.
The EU remains split over the prospect of oil and gas sanctions on Russia -with the bloc dependent on the country for 40 per cent of its natural gas and a third of its oil imports.
It has brought in measures to maintain gas supplies at 90 per cent of capacity ahead of next winter and has relied on liquefied natural gas deals with the US to stave off supply shortages and potential blackouts over the past six months.