BRUSSELS — European Union leaders have reached a landmark political agreement to ban the vast majority of Russian oil imports by the end of the year, a measure that was considered impossible in the early stages of the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of the bloc’s high dependency on the fuel.
In the coming days, negotiators still need to work out technical details of the agreement, but E.U. leaders said they had agreed to ban Russian oil arriving in the bloc by sea by the end of the year, cutting off two-thirds of the E.U.’s total imports.
Hungary and its prime minister, Viktor Orban, an occasional ally of Mr. Putin, had been blocking the measure. To win Hungary’s approval, European leaders agreed to allow pipeline imports.
Five European countries import Russian oil by pipeline. Germany and Poland agreed to cut off all Russian imports, including those arriving by pipeline, by the end of the year, but Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic made no such pledge. The three countries are very dependent on Russian oil imports, but Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already indicated that they were working toward switching their supply away from Russia.
As part of the agreement, Hungary also received assurances that, should the pipeline that delivers Russian oil, which runs through Ukraine, be hit, the country would be permitted to import oil without being accused of violating sanctions.
Even with the exceptions to appease Hungary, a small country that represents a tiny fraction of the Russian oil imported by the bloc, the measure will cost the Kremlin billions of dollars a year in revenue while also strategically decoupling Europe from Russia in a lasting way. It will also likely hit Europe hard, as households and businesses are already facing steeper energy prices.