European Union Update: Black Sea Ports, Danish Energy, Friction Among EU Members, Zelenskyy Address EU Council, And Hungary’s PM Dismisses Claims About Putin

BRUSSELS (May 31, 2022)—European Union leaders were on Monday evening, ironing out the details of the sixth round of sanctions against Russian including an oil ban — set to be much weaker than initially envisioned.

The Commission’s proposals unveiled nearly four weeks ago planned for a total ban on Russian oil imports, phased in a way to allow several member states more time to find alternative supply sources. 

But unlike previous sanction packages that were swiftly adopted, negotiations over this one stalled very quickly as Hungary and other landlocked countries demanded a longer phasing out period and more EU funds.

Leaders were hashing out the details on Monday for a compromise that would exclude Russian oil transported by pipeline from the ban, with a senior EU official saying in the early evening that the “situation on sixth package is complex but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
 

Zelenskyy discusses Black Sea ports with Erdogan

The Ukrainian and Turkish leaders held a call on Monday. Zelenskyy reported on Twitter that the two “discussed threats to food security posed by the aggressor and ways to unblock Ukrainian ports”.

Erdogan, meanwhile, “stressed that he attached special importance to the project of establishing a safe corridor for the exportation of Ukrainian agricultural products by sea,” his office said on Twitter.

“President Erdogan further noted that Turkey looked with favour in principal on joining the Control Centre to be formed with the participation of the United Nations as well as parties, and hosting the centre in Istanbul.”

Danish energy company warns of ‘risk’ Gazprom will stop supplying it

Orsted said in a statement that given that it has refused to pay for Russian gas deliveries in roubles and that Gasprom refuses to take in payment in euros, “there is a risk that Gazprom Export will stop supplying gas to Ørsted.”

The company has a payment deadline on 31 May. 

It said that this would likely constitute “a breach of contract” from Gasprom

“Since there is no gas pipeline going directly from Russia to Denmark, Russia will not be able to directly cut off the gas supplies to Denmark, and it will thus still be possible for Denmark to get gas. However, this means that the gas for Denmark must, to a larger extent, be purchased on the European gas market. We expect this to be possible,” Orsted explained. 

“In Ørsted, we have been preparing for this scenario to minimise the risk of Ørsted’s gas customers, which are primarily major companies in Denmark and Sweden, experiencing shortfalls in gas supplies. Ørsted has storage capacity in e.g. Denmark and Germany, and we are currently filling up these storage facilities to secure gas supplies to our customers and contribute to the market’s security of supply.

“We are in ongoing dialogue with the authorities about potential scenarios, and we trust that the authorities, who have the overall overview of the supply situation in Denmark, are prepared for the situation,” it added. 

‘Friction’ among EU member states ‘encourages Russia’: Zelenskyy

The Ukrainian leader revealed on Telegram that during his address to EU leaders he said that “Europe must demonstrate force” and called for unity and solidarity.

“Greater solidarity is the foundation of this force. And you know it. Finally, any friction in Europe must stop, internal friction that only encourages Russia to force more on you,” he wrote. 

Gazprom suspends gas deliveries to Dutch energy provider

GasTerra, a partially state-owned Dutch gas trader, announced that it “will not receive 2.0 billion cubic metres of gas from Gasprom in the period 31 May to 30 September 2022.”

It explained that the suspension is down to its refusal to pay for deliveries in roubles, as required by Russian since the imposition of Western sanctions which have cut off many Russian banks from international banking systems.

“GasTerra will not go along with Gazprom’s payment demands. This is because to do so would risk breaching sanctions imposed by the EU and also because there are too many financial and operational risks associated with the required payment route. In particular, opening accounts in Moscow under Russian law and their control by the Russian regime pose too great a risk for the Groningen company,” it added. 

GasTerra said that it had “anticipated this by buying gas from other providers” but stressed that “it is impossible to predict how the lost supply of 2 billion m3 of Russian gas will affect the supply/demand situation and whether the European market can absorb this loss of supply without serious consequences.”

Zelenskyy addressed Council

Charles Michel said on Twitter following Zelenskyy’s address to the 27 heads of state via videoconference that the EU “will boost your liquidity and help you reconstruct Ukraine.”

“We will continue to bolster your ability to defend your people and your country,” he added.

Orban says it’s ‘fake news’ that he’s Vladimir Putin’s ‘puppet’

Russia ready to ‘facilitate’ commercial shipping in Black Sea: Kremlin

As EU leaders gathered behind closed doors to discuss the consequences of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin held a “thorough exchange of views” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a read-out from the Kremlin. 

“While discussing the situation in Ukraine, emphasis was placed on ensuring safe navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and removing the threat of mines in their waters,” the Kremlin said.

“Vladimir Putin noted the readiness of the Russian side to facilitate unimpeded maritime transit of cargo in coordination with its Turkish partners. This also applies to the export of grain from Ukrainian ports,” it added.

Moscow blamed the “problems on the world food market” on the “short-sighted financial and economic policies of Western states” and said it stood ready to export “significant volumes of fertilizers and agricultural products” if sanctions are lifted. 

Germany to be independent of Russian oil by year-end: Scholz

The German Chancellor told reporters that Berlin is working to ensure that the country becomes “independent of (Russian) coal imports by autumn” and to “get out of oil imports and oil import dependence on Russia by the end of the year.”

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