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7 facts on European energy (in)dependence on Russian fossils that fuel war in Ukraine ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช

Picture: Financial Times

The EUโ€™s dependency on Russian energy imports remains the Continentโ€™s largest tie to Moscow. The EU imports 90% of its gas consumption, with Russia providing 45% of the EUโ€™s total natural gas import in 2021. Russia also accounts for 27% of oil imports and 46% of coal imports.

Since the beginning of Russiaโ€™s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, EU has paid โ‚ฌ20 bln to the Kremlin for fossil fuels in only one month, with almost 2/3 of this sum going to natural gas and 1/3 for oil products. Germany is the EUโ€™s top Russian energy importer, last year sending more than โ‚ฌ40 bln to Moscow.

Energy accounted for nearly two-thirds of the European Unionโ€™s imports from Russia in 2021. Thus, imposing sanctions on Russia that do not include energy supply or do not cut off the Russian Sberbank (where most energy-related transactions happen) from the SWIFT system may be ineffective in stopping the war in Ukraine.

The European Union is considering ways to diversify its energy supplies and become less dependent on Russia. The European Commission has revealedย plansย to cut gas imports from Russia by two-thirds this year. However, the discussion is still ongoing. The most recent proposal considers 2027 as the last year for Russian oil, gas and coal imports into the EU, which is too late to influence Russia to stop its war in Ukraine. The next Commissionโ€™s proposal is expected to be presented in May, which also demonstrates the insufficient pace of decision-making.

Some EU member states (Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) are pressing for a much more severe energy sanctions up to the embargo starting from now. Discourse on the Russian energy ban and other sanctions is likely to depend on the current share of Russian energy sources in the particular countryโ€™s energy mix. Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria โ€“ being among the most dependentโ€“ย  most strongly oppose a Russian fossil fuel embargo, arguing this will hit Europeโ€™s economy and push soaring energy prices even higher.

Technically, a significant decrease of Russian energy sources in EUโ€™s energy mix is possible even this year through a combination of measures that would be consistent with the European Green Deal and support energy security and affordability. Among them are turning more to other suppliers (including LNG), drawing on other clean energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and managing fossil fuel demand.

While European leaders discuss whether the EU is ready enough for the more severe sanctions towards Russia and how they will influence EUโ€™s population and business by potential energy price increases, 79 percent of Europeans voice support for the blocโ€™s more severe economic sanctions against Russia and show willingness to do more to support Ukraine even if their governments are reluctant to do so.

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