The US and EU have reached “There is broad agreement on the necessity to put more pressure on Kremlin” through the deployment of more sanctions, the Italian government announced on Tuesday, adding that the allies had also agreed on the need to “Moscow should experience an increase in its isolation internationally” during a virtual meeting between the US and heads of European nations regarding the latest phase of the war in Ukraine.
“We will again increase our sanctions on Russia,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed in a tweet.
It’s not clear exactly what sanctions are planned, though the energy industry is anticipated to be the most likely target. The conference participants made a point of reaffirming their “Common commitment to diversify our energy resources and reduce dependence on Russian supply,” according to the Italian press release.
Russia is already being cut off by many western companies, such as tech platforms to fast-food outlets. However, oil and gas sales to Europe have continued because EU countries are unable to find sufficient supplies to make up for 40% of Russia’s gas purchases.
That hasn’t stopped the US – which became energy independent under former President Donald Trump – from urging the EU to join its crusade against Moscow’s energy industry, promising to fill the gap with American liquefied natural gas – a much more expensive fuel that most European countries lack the infrastructure to store in large quantities.
France’s economic minister, Bruno Le Maire, revealed on Tuesday that he hoped to “Convince” his country’s more reluctant neighbors of the need for a total embargo on Russian oil imports, blaming unnamed nations for “Still hesitating” and complaining it could take weeks to get a consensus on the subject. Germany, in particular, has resisted the idea strongly warning that it will lead to major economic recession.
But, the EU believes it is capable of weaning itself from Russian oil and will reduce consumption by at least two thirds before the end of this year. The EU executive commission stated that replacement fuel would come from Norway and Azerbaijan. It would also be imported from the US and created locally using expanded green energy programs. The EU currently sends about $850 million (€650 million) to Russia per day for oil and gas, even while sanctioning most other Russian industries.
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Neben von der Leyen, there was also US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. The virtual conference also included Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.