Must Europe get by without energy from Russia?

The US has announced a ban on energy imports from Russia. Although the EU will not join the embargo, it plans to cut imports of Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year and be independent of Russian fossil fuels well before 2030. While some commentators stress that this is not the time for hesitation, others argue that an embargo won't make much difference anyway.

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Expressen (SE) /

Turn off the gas supply now

Expressen explains why Europe must act quickly to stop imports of Russian oil and gas:

“As a result of the sanctions already decided, Russia has no access to most of its currency reserves. A quick ban on imports would make it impossible for the Kremlin to build up a new war chest. ... Moreover, spring is approaching and the demand for heating is declining - Europe's gas reserves will last for at least two months without Russian imports. In the warm season storage facilities can then be stocked up, at least partially, with liquefied gas from other parts of the world. There will also be time to put recently shut-down nuclear power plants and fossil-fuel plants back into operation and to plan energy-saving measures for the winter.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Whatever it takes

De Standaard calls on states to show even more resolve in taking action against Russia:

“Initially it seemed that the slogan 'We can do it' would exude the calm self-confidence of a powerful Atlantic community. But for the confrontation in which we now find ourselves, Angela Merkel's 2015 voluntarism will no longer suffice. This historic moment requires the resolute pledge with which Mario Draghi, then chairman of the ECB, defeated the euro crisis in 2012: 'Whatever it takes'. Confidence in one's own strength can be very motivating. But in the face of Russian brutality it will not be enough.”

Libération (FR) /

Not the way to solve the problem

Economic sanctions will not make Moscow change its stance, economist Pierre-Yves Geoffard writes in Libération:

“Could a recession, even a severe one, lead to a change of regime or an internal revolution that removes Putin from power? History suggests otherwise: Castrism remains in power in Cuba despite decades of US embargos; in Venezuela, the population is experiencing hardship that sanctions are doing nothing to alleviate, and yet Maduro has succeeded Chávez; in Iran, the mullah regime does not appear to be on the brink of collapse. ... In short, trying to solve this problem with economic sanctions is almost magical thinking.”

Le Vif / L'Express (BE) /

The task of the decade

Europe's environmental and security energy transition must become a priority, demands Francois de Smet, leader of the Démocrate Fédéraliste Indépendant party in Le Vif / L'Express:

“The European democracies urgently need to become independent regarding energy supplies, which is only possible through further massive investment in renewable energies. ... And by continuing to use nuclear energy, at least in the transitional period, but also in the longer term if the new generation of power plants fulfils its promises. Ensuring that the European Union gains independence in this area, by showing solidarity and pooling our renewable and nuclear energy resources, must become the central task of this decade.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Scholz wasting valuable time

We need to start preparing now for the coming winter without Russian imports, Eesti Päevaleht urges:

“German Chancellor Scholz said yesterday that he does not favour an embargo on Russian gas and oil. The Hungarian leadership takes a similar view. Germany and Hungary are wrong. The quicker they dispel the illusion that Russian oil and gas will soon be a pillar of Europe's energy supply once again, the more time they will have to make plans for the coming winter.” (DE) /

A life lived in freedom doesn't come for free

We must say no to natural gas, coal and oil from Russia, demands:

“And as soon as possible. Otherwise a billion euros will continue to flow into Putin's war chest every day. ... Energy and economic experts say this is feasible, but it would be expensive for all citizens and businesses, perhaps very expensive. ... At the latest since the Russian invasion it must be clear to everyone that a life lived in freedom and justice does not come for free. The people in Ukraine are currently showing the world that they are even prepared to pay the highest price for freedom: their lives. And we worry about whether our heating won't be quite as warm next winter or whether petrol will become even more expensive?”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Isolate Russia wherever possible

Experts from the Dixi Group, which specialises in energy consulting, demand in Ukrayinska Pravda:

“The big oil and gas companies should withdraw from Russian projects and stop sharing technological know-how with Russia. ... Globally, cooperation with Rosatom [the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation] and its subsidiaries should be discontinued. ... Those who import energy from Russia should reduce such imports to zero. Not all countries can afford to dispense with Russian oil or gas completely. But they could all put Russia last on the list of countries they import from. ... The EU, the US, Japan and other countries should ban banks from giving loans for energy projects in Russia or Russian companies.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Time needed to find alternatives

The Daily Telegraph warns against prematurely imposing embargos:

“People in the West are horrified by what is going on in Ukraine but how much disruption to their own lives are they prepared to put up with to demonstrate their concern? It may be possible to find alternatives but it will take time, assuming other producers are ready to play ball. An embargo on Russian oil would have a massive knock-on impact on the global economy. ... The added danger is that such a move reinforces Putin's domestic narrative that the West has ganged up on Russia.”