Total EU ban on Russian coal delayed until mid-August, sources say

European Union envoys are expected to approve on Thursday a ban on Russian coal that would take full effect from mid-August, a month later than originally planned, two EU sources told Reuters, following pressure from Germany to delay the measure. EU imports of Russian coal is the cornerstone of a fifth sanctions package against Russia that the European Commission proposed this week in response to the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Once approved, it will be the first EU ban on any energy imports from Russia since the start of what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24. Oil and gas, which account for much larger imports from Moscow, are still intact. The European Commission originally proposed a three-month wind-down period for existing contracts, meaning Russia could effectively still export coal to the EU for 90 days after sanctions were imposed, according to a document seen by Reuters . 2:06War in Ukraine: West criticized for putting trade losses before human lives War in Ukraine: West criticized for putting trade losses before human lives But this period has been extended to four months, The sources familiar with the talks told Reuters on condition of anonymity. This followed pressure mainly from Germany, the main importer of Russian coal from the EU. With the sanctions due to come into force later this week, or early next year, after they are published in the EU’s official journal, Russian companies will effectively be able to export coal to the EU until mid- August under existing contracts. Diplomats had held two meetings on Thursday to iron out other technical issues, including the enforcement of a ban on Russian ships entering EU ports, which has raised concerns mainly in countries with large maritime sectors, such as Cyprus, sources said. However, the approval of the whole package was beyond doubt. Story continues under ad Diplomat says most coal deals are short-term and a 90-day liquidation period would have allowed most of them to go through without it being necessary to cancel them, thus avoiding legal risks. However, some contracts last more than a year. Much of Europe’s purchases of Russian coal are made on the spot market rather than on long-term contracts. These spot purchases would be discontinued immediately after the imposition of the sanctions. Although watered down slightly from the original proposal, the EU’s planned ban on Russian coal is more ambitious than that of Britain, which has said it plans to ban coal imports from Russia by the end of the year. The story continues under publicity The European Commission has estimated that banning coal could cost Russia 4 billion euros ($4.36 billion) a year in lost revenue. The Commission declined to comment. prices could rise, although non-EU importers may benefit from lower prices for Russian coal.