EU shores up defence against Russia energy threats

EU shores up defence against Russia energy threats

EU shores up defence against Russia energy threats

EU shores up defence against Russia energy threats

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Ministers from the European Union gathered on Monday to debate how to respond to Russia’s cutoff of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, as well as preparations for an oil embargo to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.

The 27 member states’ energy ministers were coordinating steps to prevent what Brussels has described as the Kremlin’s attempt to “blackmail” the West by threatening energy shortages.

The EU is also working on a phased ban on Russian oil imports, in the hopes of cutting off funds for the country’s war effort and asserting its energy independence from Moscow.

“We will support full sanctions on all Russian fossil fuels. We already have coal — now it’s time for oil,” said Anna Moskwa, Poland’s environment minister.

On Monday, European Union ministers met in Brussels to discuss how to respond to Russia’s shutdown of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, as well as plans for an oil embargo to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

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Energy ministers from the 27 EU member states were working together to thwart what Brussels has described as a Kremlin attempt to “blackmail” the West by threatening energy shortages.

In order to cut off financing for Russia’s war effort and show its energy independence from Moscow, the EU is working on a gradual ban on Russian oil imports.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has demanded: “unfriendly countries” — which includes all EU states — pay for their gas in rubles, which Warsaw and Sofia refused.

Doing so would involve western clients depositing in euros or dollars in a bank run by Russian state energy giant Gazprom, to be converted into rubles and moved to a second Gazprombank account.

The European Commission says that could breach EU sanctions on Russia. But Germany and Austria have been cautious about rejecting the Kremlin’s payment terms.

“We appeal to countries not to support Putin’s decree, not to support the initiative to pay in rubles,” Moskwa said.

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– Face saver? –
Germany’s minister for economic affairs and climate Robert Habeck said Berlin would follow EU policy even if it imposed costs on its economy.

He did, however, imply that the concept for dual Gazprombank accounts could be “a face-saving option for Putin.”

“We will continue to pay in euros the contracts that were stipulated in euros, or in dollars the contracts that were stipulated in dollars,” France’s Pompili said.

Russia’s move to cut off the two EU countries, according to European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, demonstrated that Moscow was not a “reliable supplier.”

She refuted Russian claims that some EU members had agreed to pay in rubles.

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According to AFP, the EU will propose a phased-out restriction on Russian oil imports — but not gas — in a new round of sanctions against Russia this week, possibly as early as this week.

Several diplomats said the ban on oil was made possible after a U-turn by reluctant Germany.

The commission will propose a tapered ban over six to eight months, to give countries time to diversify their supply, the sources said.

The ban requires unanimous approval and could be derailed if Hungary, which is reliant on Russian oil and is close to the Kremlin, does not support it.

Other countries are concerned that an oil embargo will raise costs at the pump at a time when consumer prices are already rising rapidly due to the war.

On the condition of anonymity, one official told AFP, “We must be very attentive to market reactions.” “There are solutions, and we will get there in the end,” says the author, “but we must proceed with caution.”

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According to officials, the country’s largest bank, Sberbank, will be barred from the international SWIFT messaging system as part of the sixth package of anti-Russian actions.

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