The European Union (EU) must prepare emergency plans for a total cut-off of gas from Russia as a result of the Vladimir Putin regime’s war in Ukraine, warned the president of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen.
The 27-nation bloc has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies, and is cutting imports controlled by the Kremlin, but von der Leyen said the EU must be prepared for disruptions caused by Moscow.
“We also have to prepare for further gas supply disruptions and even a complete cut off,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
A dozen partners have already been affected by reductions or cuts in gas supply as the political impasse with Moscow intensifies due to the conflict in Ukraine.
“This is obvious: Putin continues to use energy as a weapon. This is why the Commission is working on a European emergency plan”, he added. “We have to make sure that in the event of a total outage, the gas will go where it is most needed. We have to look for European solidarity”.
EU countries agreed last month that all natural gas storage in the bloc should reach at least 80% capacity by next winter to avoid shortages during the cold season. The new regulation also says that underground storage on community land should be at 90% capacity before winter 2023-2024.
The war in Ukraine has caused the bloc to rethink its energy policy and cut its dependence on Russian fossil fuels. The member countries have agreed to veto 90% of Russian oil by the end of the year in addition to banning the import of coal from August.
Brussels has not included gas — a fuel used to power factories and generate electricity — in its sanctions for fear of severely damaging the European economy. Before the war in Ukraine, the bloc received 25% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas from Russia.
To reduce Russian energy use, the EC has been diversifying its suppliers.