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EU discusses Russian oil embargo as Biden prepares to join talks

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European Union governments are discussing an oil embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as they meet US President Joe Biden this week for a series of summits aimed at toughening the West’s response to Moscow.

In an attempt to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his forces from Ukraine, the European Union, together with its Western allies, has imposed a comprehensive set of sanctions, including freezing the assets of the Russian Central Bank.

“We are working on a fifth round of sanctions and many new names are being proposed,” said a senior EU diplomat, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are not public.

European Union governments will hold discussions between foreign ministers on Monday before Biden arrives in Brussels on Thursday for summit meetings with 30 NATO allies, as well as the European Union and G7 nations, including Japan.

So far, four rounds of EU sanctions in the past three weeks have failed to cause the Kremlin to change course on Ukraine. The sanctions included 685 people from Russia and the Russian Federation, and sanctions on Russian finance and trade.

This leaves the European Union with the most difficult economic choice: target Russian oil, as the United States and Britain have done, but not the 27-nation European Union, given their reliance on Russian gas for energy.

Diplomats told Reuters that Baltic states, including Lithuania, were urging a ban as the next logical step, despite Germany warning against rushing into action due to high energy prices in Europe.

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