The European parliament is set to call for EU-wide restrictions on imports of Russian oil and gas to the bloc, as it urges even tougher sanctions aimed at the ‘strategic weakening’ of Russia’s economy and ability to wage war.
The text will be voted on after an address to MEPs from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who is expected to address the assembly in Brussels via video link.
MEPs are arguing for more severe sanctions as a response to Russian attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure.
In a resolution likely to be adopted by a large majority on Wednesday, MEPs also call on the EU to close ports to Russian ships and refuse access to vessels bound for Russia, with the exception of those carrying vital humanitarian supplies. It also proposes measures to “restrict the import of the most important Russian export goods, including oil and gas”, although stops short of calling for a ban.
Other demands include a halt to all new EU investment into Russia, which is unlikely in reality, as well as a definitive ban on Nord Stream 2, beyond the suspension of the approval process already done by the German government.
MEPs also want all proposed Russia sanctions mirrored for Belarus, which has been a launchpad for the Russian attack.
After Ukraine’s government filed an application for EU membership on Monday, the resolution calls on EU institutions towork towards granting EU candidate status to Ukraine as part of a “merit based” process, while continuing to integrate Ukraine into the EU single market.
Such words may seem irrelevant or fanciful, as a 40km invading Russian convoy approaches Kyiv and civilians are killed in heavy shelling, but are intended to send a signal of support. The reference to “merit based”, however, also keeps in check membership hopes. A group of western Balkan countries have been in the EU membership queue for eight-to-17 years and senior officials have long said there would be no shortcuts in tackling corruption and judicial reform.
More immediately, the EP resolution calls for “multibillion euro assistance” for Ukraine, while stating Russia bears responsibility for the significant losses and should be required to compensate Ukraine.
The European parliament has almost no powers to set EU foreign policy, but often puts pressure on EU decision-makers in national capitals to go further and faster.