EU hits Russian energy sector for the first time


Fifth round of European sanctions against Russia. This Thursday evening, the representatives of the Twenty-Seven validated the proposals of the European Commission after the discovery of dozens of corpses of civilians last weekend in Boutcha, near kyiv. They have indeed taken the decision to put in place an embargo on Russian coal and to close European ports to Russian ships. These new measures also provide for the prohibition of exports to Russia, in particular of high-tech goods, up to 10 billion euros, and the freezing of the assets of several Russian banks.

Entry into force at the beginning of August

This is the first time that the Europeans have hit the Russian energy sector, on which they are very dependent. The European Union imports 45% of its coal from Russia for a value of 4 billion euros per year. This embargo will come into force at the beginning of August, 120 days after the publication of the new package in the EU’s official journal expected on Friday.

The list of Russian products banned from importing into the EU is also extended to certain “raw materials and critical materials” for an estimated value of 5.5 billion euros per year, in order to stop the financing of the effort of Moscow war.

Russian and Belarusian road hauliers are now banned from operating in the EU. The EU blacklist is also being expanded by more than 200 names of individuals, including Russian oligarchs and, as the US has done, Vladimir Putin’s two daughters, according to a document seen by AFP .

Russia “will suffer a long descent into economic, financial and technological isolation,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

“For Russia, turning to Asia has become essential for its freedom of maneuver” (Jacques Sapir)

No embargo on Russian energy for the G7

Separately, the G7 countries also announced new economic sanctions against Russia on Thursday, including a ban on new investment in key sectors in response to “the continued escalation of the war” in Ukraine. .

“We prohibit new investments in key industries of the Russian economy, including energy”, indicate the powers of the G7 in a press release, which also announces “additional sanctions against the Russian defense sector” and against “elites and their relatives” who support the war decided by Russian President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine.

Export bans on certain goods will be extended, sanctions against Russian banks and public companies extended, according to the text.

While an embargo on energy imports is not considered at this stage, the G7 countries want to “advance” their plans to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, which include among others “a gradual exit from coal Russian”.

The group of seven major powers also pleaded on Thursday for Russia’s suspension from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which the UN General Assembly adopted in the afternoon.

Of the 193 member countries of the General Assembly, 24 voted against this suspension – the second in the history of the UN after the ousting of Libya in 2011 – initiated by the United States.

And 58 countries abstained, but the abstentions, a choice denounced by kyiv, were not taken into account in the two-thirds majority required among the only votes for and against. Among the countries that voted against is China, which denounced a “hasty approach”, the putting “oil on the fire” as well as a “dangerous precedent”.


Greece will double its coal production

Greece will double its lignite (coal) production for the next two years to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Greek government spokesman Yannis Εkonomou announced on Thursday.

“Lignite is polluting and under normal circumstances, natural gas is cheaper,” said the spokesman in a press briefing.

But, due to the war in Ukraine and Greece’s need to diversify its energy supply, the measure will, according to the spokesperson, be “necessary” for the next two years. Dependent at 40% on Russian natural gas, Greece has been seeking, since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, alternative solutions in order to “ensure the normal energy supply of the country”, according to the Greek Ministry of Energy. ‘Environment and Energy. Speaking at the inauguration of a photovoltaic park in northern Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday that “Greece’s energy policy must be flexible, bearing in mind the current situation”. .

“Under no circumstances” will these changes affect Greece’s announced target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, said the head of the government.. But the promise to close lignite power plants by 2023 will not be kept, denounced the left-wing opposition.

“It’s an admission of failure,” said the Socialist Party (Kinal).

(With AFP)