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The EU proposed a widely expected ban on Russian oil imports May 4 in its sixth round of sanctions aimed at putting pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Let us be clear: It will not be easy," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to announce the sanctions. "Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it."

Russia accounted for about a quarter of the EU's oil imports in 2021, according to EU data, with Germany, the Netherlands and Poland the largest buyers. The sanctions are designed to cut a major source of revenue for Russia, which sends about half of its oil exports to Europe, according to the International Energy Agency.

The EU plans to be energy independent from Russia by 2027, having already unveiled a ban on coal imports and announced a plan to cut Russian natural gas imports by two-thirds by the end of 2022.

"This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil," von der Leyen said, including oil transported by sea and pipelines.

Crude oil imports will be phased out within six months and refined products by the end of the year, maximizing the pressure on Russia while minimizing the collateral damage to the EU and its partners, von der Leyen said.

[Alex Blackburne]

More: EU proposes 'complete import ban' on Russian oil by end of 2022

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