At first, things couldn’t go fast enough for the President of the EU Commission: In May, Ursula von der Leyen announced the next package of sanctions against Russia, which should include a complete oil and gas embargo.
What followed was a remarkable embarrassment for the EU: so far, von der Leyen has clearly failed to achieve its actual goal of harming Putin. Because since the announcement, the price of oil has risen sharply – to the delight of Russia – but agreement on a comprehensive embargo is a long way off. When it comes to oil, for example, Hungary’s President Viktor Orban opposes the situation: He sees Hungary’s needs not being sufficiently taken into account and points to Hungary’s high dependence on Russian oil. He has had to take criticism several times for his blockade.
You have to ask yourself why Orban was so harshly criticized when you listen to the interview von der Leyen gave to the US news channel MSNBC this week. Suddenly her point of view sounds completely different. There is no more talk of a quick and complete ban on imports of Russian oil. Rather, the Commission President now represents – the exact opposite view.
“Wouldn’t a full embargo be the most effective way to stop Putin?” the interviewer asked. Accordingly, Ursula von der Leyen then explained: In order to save Europe from Putin, we must continue to buy Russian oil. Because if we don’t do that, Putin will sell it elsewhere and benefit from higher prices, so we’d better buy Russian oil ourselves and not let him benefit.
In von der Leyen’s own words, it sounded like this: “Well, we always have to find the right balance so as not to damage our economy too much,” she said at first, then citing oil as an example: “We have to be careful, because if we If we were to completely cut off (Russian) oil today, Putin could bring the oil to the world market, where prices would rise and he could sell it more expensively. And that will fill his war chest. So we have to be very strategic when tackling this issue.”
Economic experts had already warned of rising oil prices as a result of a planned – but not yet implemented – oil embargo – the eXXpress reported. But von der Leyen hadn’t let that deter him at the time. Now, without announcing a change of direction within the EU, the EU President explains: It would be years before a full embargo was implemented. Only “over time will we free ourselves from complete dependence on Russian fossil fuels”.