Russia Threatens to Cut Off Natural Gas to Europe if Oil Exports Banned

Works are under way at the construction site of the so-called Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, on March 26, 2019. - The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double the capacity to ship gas from Russia to Germany via the waters of Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The …
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European nations face a major energy crisis after Moscow said imposing sanctions on Russian oil would see them cutting off Russian gas to the continent in retaliation — a potential disaster for several EU states.

Europe’s addiction to Russian energy has come back to bite the continent, with a number of nations now scrambling for alternatives as the Kremlin threatens to block gas exports over sanctions levied against the country.

A new wave of Russian aggression in Ukraine in recent weeks has seen the country hit with international sanctions, and some partners including the United States are now pushing for stronger measures to be introduced, including an embargo on Russian oil imports.

Moscow hit back against the West taking on its energy industry, however, saying that it is willing to halt the export of gas to Europe should an oil ban be implemented.

“Today Europe consumes around 500 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and 40% of this comes from Russia,” Russian news agency Interfax reports the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Novak, as saying.

“For decades, Russia has been a reliable partner, no matter what,” the Deputy PM continued. Claiming complaints about Russia renewing its invasion of Ukraine were “unfounded accusations”, Novak said: “we have every right to retaliate and impose an embargo on the gas pumped via Nord Stream 1, which today is filled up 100 per cent.”

That Germany, and Europe more broadly, would see their massive dependence on Russian energy imports become a problem for them was far from unforeseen. Indeed, former U.S. President Donald Trump was absolutely clear that Germany continuing to enhance its energy imports from Russia with Nord Stream 2 was a serious problem for NATO that needed addressing.

His comments that Germany should shape up and lessen its dependence on Russia were attacked at the time as weakening NATO.

Other leaders have hit the same criticisms, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Johnson has been particularly active in this regard, calling on both the US and Canada to increase its fossil fuel production to relieve pressure on supplies which — despite the UK not getting a significant amount of its natural gas from Russia — is driving up prices for British consumers through knock-on impacts in the global energy market.

Johnson has also greenlit new oil and gas projects in Britain’s North Sea, with the PM saying that the UK was looking to boost domestic production. These policies resemble major U-turns given just last year new drilling in the North Sea was being blocked by the government so it could pursue Boris Jihnson’s net-zero green agenda.

However, The Guardian also notes Johnson as saying that such a move would be of little use in the short term.

Despite the sudden rally behind hydrocarbon fuel, the British government has stopped short of removing a ban on fracking in the country, with a legal ruling halting all such practices in the nation back in 2019. Fracking allowed the U.S. to become an energy net-exporter in the Trump era, and a UK parliamentary committee has recently asserted the British ban was passed on false pretences.

Europe meanwhile has reportedly looked to diversify where it gets its gas from, according to a leaked document seen by Euractiv, while also boosting the bloc’s use of renewables. EU President Ursula von der Leyen said last week: “Every kilowatt-hour of electricity Europe generates from solar… reduces our dependency on Russian gas”, ironically shifting Europe’s energy dependency from Russian gas to Chinese solar panels.

Perhaps fulfilling Trump’s prophecy that a Germany beholden to Russian gas would be NATO’s weak link, Berlin is pushing back against U.S. plans to sanction Russian energy, apparently trying to keep the pipes open.

“Europe deliberately exempted Russia energy exports from sanctions,” The Telegraph reports the country’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, as saying. “There is currently no other way of securing Europe’s supply of energy for heating, for mobility, for power supply and for industry.”

“It is therefore of essential importance for services of general interest and the daily life of our citizens.”

Russia, for their part, claim European gas imports remain high, in fact Moscow’s Interfax asserted Tuesday that European requests for gas is at “maximum” of the pipeline’s capacity.

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