Europe is discussing a sixth round of sanctions on Russia, including a hit on Russia’s energy market, a top official from the European Commission and Lithuania’s finance minister said on Friday.
European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said one of the issues under consideration concerns an oil embargo. There have been discussions about “smart sanctions” that might include tariffs rather than a full embargo at first.
“So there may be some nuances, but this work is ongoing,” Dombrovskis told reporters in Washington, DC.
In a separate interview with CNN in the US capital, Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė said she discussed a possible next tranche of sanctions with US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo.
“We are always offering to include in the sanctions the energy sector, especially oil,” as well as “additional sanctions to the financial sector of Russia,” Skaistė said.
Skaistė said the sanctions must be coordinated for them to have an impact. “If we won’t agree on the sanctions together, the United States with all Western allies, it won’t work,” she said.
Dombrovskis said that “technically speaking, approval of sanctions can be very quick view, can be done in a matter of one or two days.”
“The question here is basically is that sanctions require unanimity among member states, so those political discussions are ongoing in parallel, so it’s important to reach unanimous political agreement,” he said.
Skaistė said it was too early to say when there will be agreement on that next round of sanctions. She noted that there is both a shorter-term and longer-term goal for the sanctions: to draw Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table and to weaken Russia’s economy so it is unable to reinforce its military.
“If there will be no possibilities to reinforce their army, we would like to think that there will be no war in Europe,” she said.
Dombrovskis said it is important that existing sanctions are actually enforced, noting they are working with EU member states as well as the broader international community.
“It’s a fact that not all countries have joined those Western sanctions,” he said, noting that Beijing is “hedging its bets,” and they are trying to nudge China and other nations “to be closer to our approach to Russia.”
Skaistė said they are also focused on helping Ukraine’s government survive in the shorter-term, and in the longer-term how to rebuild Ukraine more efficiently, which she believes “should be closely engaged with the process of Ukraine’s accession to European Union.”
Both Skaistė and Dombrovskis expressed concern about Putin’s future targets if he is not decisively stopped in Ukraine.
Skaistė told CNN that Russia is trying to impose its influence on neighboring countries, noting it’s “not the first time.”
“Russian propaganda, certain authorities, representatives are not making a secret that Russia plans to go further and if we do not stop them in Ukraine, they will be invading other neighboring countries,” Dombrovskis said, calling it not only an attack on Ukraine but on European security more broadly.
Asked if Europe would respond with the same unity if Moldova were attacked by Russia, Dombrovskis said they needed to focus on Ukraine right now, “because Putin will go as far as we will let him to go.”
CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed reporting to this post.