The EU branded as blackmail Russia’s decision to halt supplies to Poland and Hungary and gave assurances it would work to ensure alternative supplies
The Russian giant Gazprom's decision to unilaterally cut gas
supplies to some EU countries is unjustified, unacceptable and is a provocation
from the Kremlin, the chief of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen
has said. Von der Leyen made the statement during the works of the Gas Coordination
Group shortly after Russia had cut gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after
their refusal to pay in roubles. Ursula von der Leyen has branded the Russian
giant Gazprom's decision as an act of blackmail.
der Leyen: "Gazprom's announcement that is unilaterally
stopping gas deliveries to certain EU member states is another provocation from
the Kremlin. But it comes as no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuel to
try to blackmail us. This is something the European Commission has been
preparing for in close coordination and solidarity with member states and
international partners. Our response will be immediate, united and coordinated.
First we will ensure that Gazprom's decision has the least possible impact on
European consumers. Today, the Kremlin failed once again in its attempt to sow
division among member states. The era of Russian fossil fuel in Europe is
coming to an end. Europe is moving forward on energy issues"
The European Union needs reliable energy
suppliers and Russia's latest decision proves it is not such a supplier the EU
chief has also said. Ursula von der Leyen has given assurances that at the EU
level, efforts are being made to ensure alternative gas supplies adding that the
storage levels are presently the best in the entire Union. Ursula von der Leyen
has also explained the decision to cut gas supplies affects Russia in the first
place, as the country will reduce its revenues.
She says that the sixth package of European sanctions will
come at the right time and could also include sanctions against the Russian gas
and oil. According to the EU official, the REPower action plan will this year
start to contribute to the significant reduction of the bloc's dependency on fossil
fuels from Russia and that in mid-May the Commission will present plans aimed
at stepping up the green transition.
The EU has other options to offset the gas supply cuts, says
the EU official who called on the members not to breach the sanctions imposed
on Russia after the latter's invasion of Ukraine. In March, president Putin
announced that Russia would only accept payment in roubles for its gas
deliveries to countries that are unfriendly to Russia. Brussels has described the move as a breach of
contract though. Russia, which carries on its invasion of Ukraine, is presently
denying the accusations of using gas as a blackmail instrument saying that it
is a reliable energy supplier.