Soon to be clear whether EU will also ban Russian oil, says PM

Kamnik – Prime Minister Janez Janša said on Tuesday that in the next two or three days it would be clear whether the EU will also ban Russian energy imports and thus follow the example set by the US and UK. The time frame of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will depend on this decision, he added.

Russia earns approximately EUR 1 billion every day by selling oil and natural gas, securing money to finance the war in Ukraine, Janša said during a debate in Kamnik that wrapped up the government’s visit to the northern part of Slovenia’s central region.

He said it would be clear after Thursday’s informal EU summit in Paris how turbulent the EU would be in the coming weeks. The draft resolution states that Europe will become energy independent from Russia, but the dilemma remains on how and when to achieve this, the prime minister added.

In the event of an EU ban on Russia’s energy imports Slovenian companies would also suffer drastic consequences overnight, he said.

Janša noted that Ukraine had extensive supplies of raw materials and plenty of fertile land, so the war would also have an impact on cereal prices.

Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek also talked about this during the debate after he held a virtual meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Istvan Nagy. Hungary has announced a restriction on cereal exports, but the pair agreed that the two countries would work together to ensure the flow of cereals from Hungary in line with the agreements already concluded.

Janša believes that if Europe will seek middle ground through compromises in imposing sanctions against Russia, the shock experienced by companies and people would be smaller but it would last longer, and so would the war in Ukraine. On the other hand, if the sanctions are imposed quickly, the situation would stabilise sooner, he added.

He thinks the next few weeks will be quite turbulent in terms of energy, commodities and food supplies and prices. “Slovenia has plans and stocks for such a situation, as does the EU,” he said, reiterating that long queues outside petrol stations were not necessary as there would be no shortage of energy products. “We will neither be hungry nor without electricity,” he said.

Janša assured that the EU had enough reserves of natural gas until the summer, noting that it was possible to provide alternative sources in the meantime. Russian oil is a minority in relation to the global market, he said.

EU countries vary when it comes to their dependency on Russian natural gas, and it will take some time for the relevant mechanisms to align and for the EU’s response to be efficient, he said.