European leaders, seeking to punish Russia for its role in suspected atrocities carried out in Ukraine, are zeroing in on a ban on coal as the imported energy source that would be the easiest to replace.
Deliberations over the ban and other sanctions on Wednesday were set to continue into Thursday, and European Union officials and diplomats anticipated the measures would be approved by then. The process reflected the challenges of reaching agreement among all 27 member nations on the penalties, which would also include banning Russian ships from E.U. ports.
If approved, the sanctions would be the harshest enforced by the bloc since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine six weeks ago. Sanctions need to be approved by all member states.
Though the European Union depends on Russian coal, the bloc could replace it more easily with imports from other countries than it could replace natural gas and oil.
But banning coal from Russia could send energy prices soaring for European consumers, given the existing shortages in the bloc, according to Rystad Energy, the consulting firm. Carlos Torres Diaz, a senior vice president at Rystad, called the potential sanctions “a double-edged sword.”
Imports from Russia accounted for 47 percent of coal coming into the European Union in 2019, according to the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, making the country the most important supplier of the fuel. That amounts to 4 billion euros worth of coal annually, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said.
Each member state has different energy needs, and among those most dependent on Russian energy overall is Germany, the bloc’s largest economy. Roughly half of all coal that Germany imports comes from Russia, last year totaling €2.2 billion, according to government figures….
The New York Times
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