Politics

Andrew Neil brutally shames Brussels as EU gives Russia more money than Ukraine

Nigel Farage calls EU 'hypocritical' for paying Russia for oil

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The EU has been sending military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24. But despite the generous €1 billion funds sent to Kyiv to defend itself from the attack, the Brussels bloc has been funding Vladimir Putin’s war in substantially bigger amounts.

Shaming the bloc for its inaction, Andrew Neil wrote: “The EU’s member states have paid Russia €35 billion for energy since it invaded Ukraine — while sending only €1 billion in aid to Ukraine.”

European Union envoys are set to approve on Thursday, April 7, a ban on Russian coal but it would only take full effect from mid-August, a month later than initially proposed, following pressure from Germany to delay the measure.

The phase-out of EU imports of Russian coal is the cornerstone measure in a fifth package of sanctions against Russia that the EU Commission proposed this week, as a reaction to atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Once approved, it will be the EU’s first ban on any import of energy from Russia since the start of what the Kremlin calls a “special operation” in Ukraine on February 24.

Oil and gas, which represent far bigger imports from Moscow, are still untouched.

Much of Europe’s buying of Russian coal is in the spot market, rather than long-term contracts. Those spot purchases would be halted immediately after sanctions are imposed.

The EU Commission had initially proposed a wind-down period of three months for existing contracts, meaning that Russia could effectively still export coal to the EU for 90 days after sanctions were imposed, according to a document seen by Reuters.

But that period has been extended to four months, a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

That followed pressure mostly from Germany, the EU’s main importer of Russian coal.

With sanctions expected to take effect later this week, or early the next, after publication in the EU official journal, Russian companies will effectively be able to export coal to the EU until mid-August under existing contracts.

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One diplomat said most coal contracts were short term, and a wind-down period of 90 days would have allowed most of them to be concluded without the need for cancellation, avoiding legal risks.

Despite being slightly watered down from the initial proposal, the EU’s planned ban on Russian coal is more ambitious than Britain’s, which has said it planned to ban coal imports from Russia by the end of the year.

The EU Commission has estimated the coal ban could cost Russia 4 billion euros ($4.36 billion) a year in lost revenue.

Ukraine will keep up demands for an oil and gas embargo on Russia after its invasion of the country, the Ukrainian foreign minister said on Thursday.

Dmytro Kuleba will address NATO’s 30 allies, as well as the European Union, Finland, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, in a special session of foreign ministers to maintain international support for sanctions and weapons supplies.

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“We will continue to insist on full oil and gas embargo,” he told reporters at NATO, speaking alongside Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives, and the war is contained in Ukraine,” he said.

Kuleba called on Germany in particular to speed up weapons’ deliveries to Ukraine, asking for planes, land-based anti-ship missiles, armoured vehicles and air defence systems. He said procedures were taking too long in Berlin.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who offered to hold another meeting of NATO foreign ministers in May in Berlin, said she would discuss more arms sales to Ukraine with allies on Thursday in Brussels.

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