According to German and British officials, Berlin and London have no plans to restore trade ties with Moscow even after the resolution of the Ukraine conflict and President Vladimir Putin’s departure from office. Miguel Berger, Germany’s ambassador to the UK, declared at the Energy Intelligence Forum in London that “this is a relationship that has come to an end.” UK Minister for Energy and Net Zero Graham Stuart confirmed this statement by saying, “there will be no return.”
The Ukraine conflict led Western European countries to significantly reduce their energy imports from Russia, their former primary fuel supplier. In addition to cutting imports, they also imposed embargoes on Russian coal and oil. The Western sanctions and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines also resulted in a drastic decrease in natural gas supplies from Russia. As a result, Moscow currently covers less than 10% of the continent’s energy needs. However, Russian gas still accounted for approximately 45% of EU purchases and nearly 40% of its consumption in 2021.
While the loss of Russian gas may not have a significant impact on the UK, as it only imported about 4% of its gas and 9% of its crude oil from Russia in 2021, Germany has faced a major energy crisis due to the loss of Russian gas. The Western sanctions have deprived Germany, the largest and most industrialized economy in the EU, of about half of its gas supplies.
Germany’s ambassador to the UK, Miguel Berger, admitted that the situation is very challenging and gas prices will remain higher, creating constant pressure for Germany and its industry. Despite the halt in imports of pipeline gas from Russia, EU countries have continued to purchase record volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia this year. Spain, France, and Belgium are among the countries that have increased their purchases of LNG from Russia. These purchases have raised concerns within the EU about the bloc’s continued dependence on Russian energy, despite its pledge to reduce consumption.
In addition to Russia, the EU has also increased its imports of petroleum products from India, which has become one of Russia’s largest oil buyers. This has raised concerns about the bloc’s continued reliance on Russian crude supplies, which are still arriving refined from third countries.
The refusal to restore trade ties with Moscow indicates a decisive shift for both Germany and the UK. It reflects their commitment to reducing dependence on Russian energy and diversifying their energy sources. However, the challenges of finding alternative energy suppliers and dealing with higher gas prices remain significant for both countries. The situation highlights the complex interplay between geopolitics and energy security in Europe and underscores the need for long-term energy strategies that prioritize diversity and resilience.
In conclusion, Berlin and London have made it clear that trade ties with Moscow will not be restored even after the Ukraine conflict ends and President Vladimir Putin leaves office. Both Germany and the UK have faced significant challenges due to the loss of Russian gas, with Germany experiencing a major energy crisis. The EU’s dependence on Russian energy and its efforts to diversify its energy sources remain ongoing concerns. Finding alternative suppliers and managing higher gas prices are key priorities for these countries as they navigate the complex landscape of energy security in Europe.