The European Union (EU) shows a rare unity when it comes to agreeing on four unprecedented rounds of sanctions against Russia. However, at the summit on March 24, the 27 leaders of the bloc faced sharp divisions over energy.
In the first month when Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, the EU countries imposed a series of tough measures against the Russian economy and financial system as well as President Vladimir Putin, the oligarchs. Russia.
Unlike the US, so far, the EU leadership has acknowledged the dependence of the countries in the bloc on Russian oil, natural gas and coal, as well as ensuring the “wheel” of the industry runs smoothly. stable way.
Countries that are dependent on Russian oil or gas such as the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria argue that the imposition of an embargo on Russian energy imports “would have a devastating effect on the European economy.”
According to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, unnecessary sanctions should not be implemented once they have an effect on the European economy.
Sharing the same view, according to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, EU countries are still too divided on coming up with an agreement on energy sanctions against Russia at this summit.
“We discuss sanctions but I don’t think more sanctions should be imposed. Don’t forget that the package of sanctions imposed at the present time is by far the most difficult package of sanctions that I have ever seen as a politician.” Mr. Rutte said.
However, the Baltic states, Poland, and Finland demanded stronger sanctions from the EU against Moscow.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: “If we continue to buy energy from Russia, we are financing the war.”
“We must continue to isolate the Russian economy to prevent money from flowing into the war machine.” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said.
More than 90% of EU natural gas imports annually are used to generate electricity, heat and serve a number of industries, with Russia providing almost 40% of the gas and a quarter of the gas. oil for the EU.
Instead of an embargo, the European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive body, has proposed cutting the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year. The EU is negotiating with the US to secure additional supplies of liquefied natural gas and has also begun discussions with other suppliers.
According to the EC, in 2021, EU imports of Russian goods are worth 158.5 billion euros, of which fuels and minerals account for 62%, or 98.9 billion euros.
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