Expert accuses Russia of blackmailing Europe over gas trade

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A Russian official has accused the EU of avoiding measures which would diminish the impact of the growing gas crisis and underestimating the future role of gas amid tough renewable energy targets. The ambassador said the supply crisis would be remedied much more quickly if the bloc stopped treating Russia as an “adversary”.

The EU could soon import emergency gas reserves from Russia in a bid to prevent shortages.

The bloc is considering these plans as a means to protect citizens across member nations from record-breaking energy prices this winter.

EU sources claim the idea is being evaluated by many individuals and institutions according to The Telegraph.

Any deal would likely be akin to the joint procurement strategy enacted for buying Covid vaccines.

The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said Spain was pushing for joint procurement and common gas storage with Russia.

Other key EU member states including France, as well as Romania, Greece and the Czech Republic, also support the plans.

Mr Borrell told El Pais newspaper: “We continue to have a need for Russian gas and we will probably need more than that contracted.

“That is why Spain proposes, quite rightly, that the negotiation be done not country by country, but as a whole, as has been done with vaccines.”

Mr Borrell added Europe is facing an “emergency situation”.

He added the “gas supply problem has a geopolitical dimension” – linking the crisis to strained relations with Moscow.

According to the latest figures, Russia was the main EU supplier of crude oil, natural gas and solid fossil fuels in 2019.

In that time, EU imports from Russia stood at 27 percent of crude oil, 41 percent of natural gas and 47 percent of solid fuel imports.

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Despite support from these important EU nations – plans for a procurement deal would likely face opposition from some member states.

The Kremlin’s ambassador to the EU called on Europe to mend ties with the country to avoid gas shortages in the future.

Vladimir Chizov said he expected the state-controlled exporter, Gasprom, which supplies 35 percent of Europe’s gas needs, to respond quickly to instructions from Russian leader Vladimir Putin to adjust output.

Mr Chizov added action is needed “sooner rather than later” to curb skyrocketing wholesale prices and Mr Putin “gave some advice to Gazprom, to be more flexible. And something makes me think that Gazprom will listen.”

The Russian ambassador added Europe’s designation of Russia as an “adversary” had not helped the crisis.

He told the FT: “The crux of the matter is only a matter of phraseology.

“Change adversary to partner and things get resolved easier…when the EU finds enough political will to do this, they will know where to find us.”

Several European Union Governments have raised concerns about high prices and low reserves ahead of forecasts for an extremely cold winter.

Many of these nations are considering emergency actions to ensure the crisis does not worsen significantly.

Mr Chizov said the EU’s energy crisis had been worsened by reluctance from European energy companies to pay more to replenish their reserves “primarily for political reasons”.

However, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, chief executive of German gas company Uniper, a Gazprom client, disputed this claim last week.

Mr Maubach said Uniper would be pleased if Gasprom delivered more volumes to cool down the situation and lower gas prices.

The Russian ambassador also said the crisis had been worsened by EU regulations which force Gazprom to supply a proportion of gas to Europe on freely-traded spot market terms, rather than long-term contracts, which Brussels argued are uncompetitive.

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