EU president accuses Russia of energy ‘blackmail’ — Analysis

Ursula von der Leyen is accusing Moscow of being a bad neighbor, even though Brussels is cutting its energy imports.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday accused Russia of “blackmailing”EU exports oil and gas to the EU. The bloc has begun to cut itself off from energy resources. Moscow blames Western sanctions for global food shortages.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, von der Leyen said the EU would “accelerate”Its transition to renewable energy “because of Russia’s blackmailing us with fossil fuels.”

Yet hours before she spoke, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced that the EU’s 27 member states would “reach a breakthrough within days”It is crucial to prohibit Russian oil imports as many EU members depend upon them. Germany for instance, imports around 25% from Russia, while the rest of Europe gets 27%.

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Von der Leyen has also promised to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian gas by 66% this year and eliminate it entirely by 2027, as part of a green energy plan announced last week. At present, 40% of the EU’s gas comes from Russia.

Russia continued selling its oil to the EU even after the Ukraine military intervention in February. Moscow demands that Russian importers pay rubles for its gas. More than half of Gazprom’s foreign clients have already opened ruble accounts with the Russian energy giant, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Von der Leyen also charged Russia with using “food exports as a form of blackmail,”It allegedly blocked grain exports from Ukraine, and refused to import its own supplies. 

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the West’s economic sanctions are responsible for rising global food prices, and that Ukraine is free to export its crop through Poland. Peskov accused the Ukrainian navy of mining parts of the Black Sea and making shipping shipments. “virtually impossible.”

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