Russia’s War on Ukraine: EU Split on Russia Energy Embargo, Mulls Other Steps

Written by | Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Some European Union member states are pushing for sanctions on Moscow’s key energy sector to punish Russia for its attack on the Ukrainian port city Mariupol that the EU’s foreign policy chief called “a massive war crime”. “What’s happening now in Mariupol is a massive war crime, destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody,” Josep Borrell said at the start of a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday (21 March). German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted the increase in Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and theaters, saying that the “courts will have to decide, but for me these are clearly war crimes.” Some EU nations like Poland and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are pushing for tougher sanctions, including a ban on Russian oil and gas imports. The ministers mulled over imposing further measures they could take to force Moscow to change course in Ukraine.
The EU and its Western allies have already imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia, including freezing the nation’s central bank assets. But the sanctions have so far not succeeded in pushing the Kremlin to halt its invasion of Ukraine, where fighting showing no sign of abating. A decision on further sanctions “is going to dominate and it’s not going to be easy,” an EU diplomat said ahead of the meeting. “It is unavoidable to start talking about the energy sector and we definitely can start talking about oil,” Lithuania Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said. “Europe cannot look, give an impression of fatigue when the war in Ukraine hasn’t ended. We cannot get tired imposing sanctions, we cannot get tired offering assistance to Ukraine,” he added. The aim of these sanctions, the bloc and its allies have said, is to cripple the Russian economy and curtail its ability to raise funds for its military. But energy supplies have so far been left off the table as the EU is heavily reliant on Russia for its energy supplies.
Meanwhile, with Russia’s war in Ukraine in its fourth week, Germany has become the focal point of a debate about whether Europe should continue financing Russian military operations by purchasing energy from Moscow. With at least €50 million flows from Germany to Russia daily in exchange for gas, oil and coal, no European country imports more energy from Russia than Germany. As energy prices continue to rise, experts have estimated that Europe sends in total about €1 billion per day to Russia for its energy imports. To cut this dependency, Germany and Qatar have agreed upon a long-term energy partnership to help cut reliance on Russian gas over the invasion of Ukraine, German Economic Minister Robert Habeck said Sunday (20 March). Habeck, who was on a two-nation visit to the Arabian Gulf, said that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had pledged more support than Germany had expected. “Although we might still need Russian gas this year, in the future it won’t be so anymore. And this is only the start,” Habeck said. Qatar is one of the three largest exporters of liquified natural gas (LNG). Habeck also visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is repositioning itself as a hub for green hydrogen.

Article Categories:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.