In the struggle for the next package of sanctions against Russia, the EU countries are still far apart.

This was already evident last Friday when their ambassadors debated the EU Commission's new proposals for the first time, and it was confirmed in another session on Tuesday.

On the one hand, this time it is about price caps for processed oil products from Russia.

From February 5, most EU countries will no longer purchase refined products from there themselves, two months earlier they had already put an embargo on crude oil into force.

At the same time, they set a price limit that transport companies must adhere to if they want to deliver to third countries and insure their ships in the EU.

On the other hand, the sanctions against Belarus are to be expanded.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

  • Follow I follow

In both cases, the usual lines of conflict can be seen, as evidenced by internal minutes of Friday's meeting, which are available to the FAZ.

While Poland and the Baltic states want to take a tough stance on Moscow and Minsk, Germany, France and other states are urging caution.

On the other hand, Greece, Cyprus and Malta are concerned that they will lose part of the lucrative transport business if price limits are set too tightly.

The EU Commission has proposed a double price cap for oil products: 100 dollars for a barrel of diesel and 45 dollars for a barrel of heating oil.

Germany and France would agree.

Poland wants to push through a significantly lower price, which, however, is difficult to achieve within the G-7 framework.

The US government thinks $100 is too low.

The shipowning states, in turn, are pushing for $120 and $60.

That's closer to the market price, currently around $130 for diesel.

Review only in March

The debate about whether and when the price cap on Russian crude oil agreed in December should be adjusted is similar.

The EU and the G7 had agreed on 60 dollars, since then the actual market price has been constantly below that.

The EU Commission sees this as proof that the mechanism works.

However, due to the opening of China after the end of the zero-Covid policy, she expects prices to rise and therefore does not want to review the price cap until March.

Germany agrees, while Poland and the Baltic states are calling for an immediate downward adjustment.

The shipowning states, on the other hand, point out that the price cap is already being circumvented in many cases.

Turkey has more than doubled its imports from Russia.

In addition, Moscow has acquired a sizeable fleet of decommissioned tankers with which it can supply customers itself.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on January 10 that sanctions would be extended to Belarus.

The Commission wants to largely “mirror” penalties against Russia, with the exception of the financial and media sectors.

So far, 30 percent of exports to Belarus and 60 percent of imports from there are blocked.

In the future it would be 45 and 80 percent respectively.

The German EU ambassador warned at the meeting on Friday that there must still be differences "that would make it possible to prevent Lukashenko from entering the war".

He pushed for specific exceptions and relief, for example to ensure food security, which the hardliners strictly rejected.