Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over war
FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe imposed a ban Sunday on Russian diesel fuel and other refined oil products, slashing energy dependency on Moscow and seeking to further crimp the Kremlin’s fossil fuel earnings as punishment for invading Ukraine.
The ban comes along with a price cap agreed by the Group of Seven allied democracies. The goal is allowing Russian diesel to keep flowing to countries like China and India and avoiding a sudden price rise that would hurt consumers worldwide, while reducing the profits funding Moscow’s budget and war.
Diesel is key for the economy because it is used to power cars, trucks carrying goods, farm equipment and factory machinery. Diesel prices have been elevated due to recovering demand after the COVID19 pandemic and limits on refining capacity, contributing to inflation for other goods worldwide.
The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the 27-nation European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India to replace those from Russia, which at one point delivered 10% of Europe’s total diesel needs.
Pump prices in Germany, the EU’s largest economy, fell 2.6 cents to $7.48 per gallon as of Jan. 31.
Europe has already banned Russian coal and most crude oil while Moscow has cut off most shipments of natural gas.
The diesel price cap will not bite immediately because it was set at about what Russian diesel trades for. Russia’s chief problem now will be finding new customers, not evading the price ceiling. However, the cap aims to prevent Russian gains from any sudden price spikes in refined oil products.
In related news:
■ Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett who served briefly as a mediator at the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine says he drew a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin last year not to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Bennett was one of the few Western leaders to meet Putin during the war in a trip to Moscow last March.
While Bennett’s mediation efforts appear to have done little to end the bloodshed that continues, his remarks, in an interview posted online late Saturday, shed light on the backroom diplomacy that was underway to try to bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion in its early days.
■ Reacting to Bennett’s comments, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote Sunday on Twitter that Putin was not to be trusted.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov expressed confidence that Western allies would agree to the country’s latest weapons request — warplanes to fight off Russian forces.
“There will be planes,” Reznikov predicted at a news conference in Kyiv. “The question is just what kind exactly .... Consider that this mission is already completed.”