Zelensky Says Price Cap Set on Russian Oil Is Too High

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky strongly criticized a plan brokered by the Group of 7 nations to impose a price ceiling of $60 a barrel on Russian crude oil, arguing that the ceiling was not low enough to significantly curb the Kremlin’s war effort. and suggesting that the plan’s architects were “trying to avoid big decisions.”

Zelensky made the comments Saturday night on his nocturnal addressjust a day after diplomats from the European Union reached the agreement after protracted negotiations.

The $60 per barrel threshold was a compromise: a group of European maritime nations had demanded that the maximum price be placed at $70 per barrel or higher, to ensure that their commercial interests were not affected; another group of pro-Ukrainian countries had demanded that the cap be set at around $30 a barrel to slash Russia’s oil revenues. Ultimately, negotiators settled on a price close to what major buyers of Russian oil, such as China and India, are currently paying.

The deal was heralded by supporters as one likely to make a small dent in the Kremlin’s energy revenues and avert a global oil shock. But Mr. Zelensky found it wanting.

“The logic is obvious: if the price limit for Russian oil is $60 instead of, for example, $30, which Poland and the Baltics talked about, then the Russian budget will receive about $100 billion a year,” Zelensky said.

“This money will go not just for war and not just for Russia’s increased sponsorship of other terrorist regimes and organizations,” he continued. “This money will also be used to further destabilize precisely those countries that are now trying to avoid big decisions.”

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said on Saturday that Moscow would not accept the price cap on Russian oil. according to the Russian state news agency, Tass.

The United States had led the push for an agreement along the lines of what was ultimately negotiated. After the deal was announced, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen praised the plan. She helped “achieve our goal of restricting Putin’s main source of revenue for his illegal war in Ukraine and, at the same time, preserving the stability of global energy supplies,” she said, referring to Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin. .

Western sanctions have so far failed to weaken Moscow’s energy exports: Russia is on its way to earn more this year of oil sales than in 2021, driven by a rise in the world price after the start of the war.

And questions remain about whether the new plan can be enforced. It is up to each party in the Russian oil supply chain to attest to the price of shipments, and insurers and shippers have warned that the records could be falsified by those seeking to keep Russian oil flowing.

In his comments, Zelensky lamented that “the price cap discussion” has “ended in the world” without any “big decision.”

“You wouldn’t call it a big decision to put such a cap on Russian prices,” he said of the $60 a barrel cap, adding that the cap would be “quite comfortable for the budget of a terrorist state.”

“Russia has already caused huge losses to every country in the world by deliberately destabilizing the energy market,” he said.

EU diplomats agreed that the price cap should be reviewed every two months, or more often if necessary, by a committee of policymakers from the Group of 7 countries and allies.