The European Union (EU) remains heavily reliant on Russian gas despite its commitment to cease purchasing and using Russian fuel by 2027, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Zakharova accused the 27-member EU of hypocrisy, claiming that its claims to reduce the inflow of Russian gas were merely “wordplay.” She argued that the EU, in order to ensure energy security and sovereignty, would need alternative energy sources. However, Zakharova acknowledged that the bloc could not fully eliminate its dependence on Russian energy at this time.
Zakharova contended that the EU’s statements about reducing Russian energy reliance were for show, suggesting that behind closed doors, EU officials acknowledged the practicality of Russian energy supplies. She further stated that the idea of weaning the EU off Russian energy was not of its own making but an outcome of Washington’s experiments. She referred to EU companies and their financial donations being driven to other continents, primarily the United States and other countries, as a result of these experiments.
Recent findings published by NGO Global Witness in August revealed that EU members imported 52% of all Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports between January and July. Eurostat data for the first quarter of 2023 also supported this, showing that Russia was the EU’s second-largest supplier of LNG, following the United States but surpassing Qatar, Algeria, Norway, and Nigeria.
While the EU has vowed to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, the challenge of fully transitioning to alternative sources is apparent. Brussels recognizes that it cannot completely divest from Russian energy at present. The bloc’s pursuit of alternative energy sources in Africa and Asia is a step towards diversification, but it does not signify a complete severance from Russian gas.
The issue of the EU’s reliance on Russian gas raises concerns about its energy security and ability to maintain its development agenda. The EU may face difficulties in meeting its energy needs without Russian gas, which could hinder its plans for economic growth in the next decade. The complex dynamics of the energy market and geopolitical considerations make achieving complete energy independence a challenging task.
It is evident that the EU’s goal of reducing reliance on Russian gas is a complex and long-term process. While it continues to explore alternative energy sources, the EU must also acknowledge the practicality of Russian energy supplies in the current energy landscape. Balancing energy security and diversification with the realities of the market will be crucial for the EU in the years to come.