The European Union is battling Russia’s oil embargo while leaders gather

European Union leaders will gather on Monday to show new solidarity with Ukraine, but disagreements over whether to target Russian oil in a new series of sanctions reveal how far the bloc can go to help a war-torn country.

BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders will gather on Monday to show new solidarity with Ukraine, but disagreements over whether to target Russian oil in a new series of sanctions reveal how far the bloc can go to help war-torn country .

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, who will address 27 heads of state and government by video conference in the evening, has repeatedly demanded that the EU target Russia’s lucrative energy sector and deprive Moscow of billions of dollars a day.

But Hungary leads a group of countries – along with Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria – that rely on Russian oil and cannot afford to take such steps. More than 60% of Hungary’s oil comes from Russia and 85% from natural gas. Prime Minister Victor Orban insists that the issue of oil embargo should not be discussed at the summit.

The EU has already imposed five rounds of sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine. It targets more than 1,000 people, including President Vladimir Putin and senior government officials, as well as pro-Kremlin oligarchs, banks, the coal sector and more.

The sixth package was announced on May 4, but the oil shutdown confuses the bloc. Ahead of the summit, officials suggested that a solution could be found if it targets oil transported by ships and keeps fire on the pipeline, so valuable to Hungary.

“If we focus on offshore oil, we will affect at least two-thirds of exports, and possibly more,” said a senior EU official. He declined to give a name, given the sensitive nature of the talks. Hungary and Slovakia depend on Russian oil, which they receive through the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline.

The problem with access to oil by sea is that countries such as Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, which are most dependent on this form, will suffer from rising oil prices, distorting competition, because Hungary will continue to buy cheaper Russian oil. Last weekend, experts could not agree on such a step, but continued talks before the summit.

The two-day meeting in Brussels will also focus on further EU financial support to Ukraine, possibly approving a 9 billion-euro ($ 9.7 billion) tranche of aid, as well as military aid and war crimes investigations.

Food security will be discussed on Tuesday, and leaders intend to encourage their governments to step up work on “solidarity strips” to help Ukraine export grain and other products.

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