How UK pressures EU to sanction Russian LNG

Wednesday, 14 February 2024

Russia is critically dependent on fossil fuel exports to finance its military treasury. That's why, halting Russian energy expansion is a matter of shared security for Ukraine and the West.

Tough and long-lasting international sanctions against the Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and strategic projects like Arctic LNG 2 are required for that.

And it's good that such plans are being discussed at the highest political level, including Ukraine's energy ministers's key allied countries, writes Oleh Savitskyi, Campaigns Manager at Razom We Stand, in his column – First step toward banning russian LNG: What Ukraine's allies are discussing.

As the author writes, UK Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has announced the discussion with EU countries on banning the import of Russian liquefied natural gas. That's why she headed to the Ministerial Meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris on 13-14 February.


The Secreatry also noted that the British government is working closely with European allies to help end their dependence and that European countries should kick Putin out of the market forever.

Oleh Savitskyi points out that IEA is at the center of the global dialogue on energy security and transition to clean energy and since 2022 has been providing the European Commission and national governments with specific recommendations for measures to reduce oil and gas demand and stop their import from Russia.

According to the expert, the challenge for the West is the increasing import of Russian liquefied natural gas to Europe.

"The largest gas importer in Spain, Naturgy Energy Group, has a significant long-term contract for regular supplies from Yamal LNG, the Novatek key export terminal, amounting 2.5 million tons of LNG annually until 2038. Naturgy and other European energy companies also buy Russian LNG on the spot market," the columnist notes.

He adds that the French Total Energies and the Belgian Fluxys have long-term contracts with Yamal LNG, including for transshipment of LNG for sale to third countries outside Europe. All Yamal partners provide financial resources to Novatek and support its plans for further export expansion, including the construction of Arctic LNG 2.

Such partnerships, which have already attracted the attention of many politicians, experts, and the public, are becoming increasingly toxic for the EU. Moreover, maintaining purchases of Russian gas from the Arctic LNG 2 terminal on the spot market, as well as providing any services to Russian LNG tankers, will now be a direct violation of US sanctions.

The tough actions of the United States are entirely justified, emphasises Oleh Savitskyi.

He reminds us that Novatek and other Russian oil and gas companies are currently the largest taxpayers for the Kremlin, playing a key role in shaping the balance of payments and stabilising the national currency.

"Sanctions against LNG terminals have proven their effectiveness by finding the weak point of the Kremlin regime," Oleh Savitskyi concludes.

According to him, the fate of the Arctic LNG 2 project shows how sanctions could limit Russia's presence in international energy markets.

"But it is not enough just to introduce new sanctions against Russian LNG – it is equally important not to allow their circumvention," the expert writes.

Ahead of the IEA Meeting, Razom We Stand also appealed to the energy ministers of participating key countries, urging them to take specific steps to gradually abandon the import of Russian LNG in Europe.

Ukrainian MPs, experts, officials, and the public unanimously call on international partners to strengthen sanctions against Russian LNG and ban its import to the EU.

The director of Stand With Ukraine campaigns expects that the ministers will publish a joint communiqué following the conference in Paris, which will take into account measures to strengthen the IEA role in gas supply security issues, as well as requirements for transparency and disclosure of information on LNG supplies.

This document can provide Ukraine with new grounds and leverage to promote sanctions against Russian LNG exports.

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