Netherlands breaks EU ranks to cut all ‘undesirable’ Russia ties in huge blow for Putin

Former Putin advisor slams Europe for using Russian oil on LBC

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The government in the Netherlands has asked all regional municipalities to begin phasing out Russian gas, even as the EU flounders to find a way to impose such sanctions. Local bodies have been asked to end their contracts with Gazprom, Russia’s state-sponsored energy behemoth, by October, and even offered to protect the bodies from the economic damages that the end of the contract would bring.

Around 120 cities in the Netherlands have an energy contract with a subsidiary company of Gazprom that is based in the southern city of Den Bosch.

This request appears to not be mandatory, but rather a reassurance from the Dutch government that cities that wish to unilaterally end gas supply contracts with Gazprom would be immune to the damages faced by the sanctions.

After Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, the Netherlands’ Union of Cities VNG announced cities would not renew their Gazprom contracts, which have varying lengths.

In a letter to parliament, Dutch Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten wrote that such Russian contracts are “undesirable” and should be phased out as quickly as possible.

He wrote: “In the fifth EU sanction package, member states have agreed that it is forbidden for tendering (government bodies)… to award contracts to Russian parties in the Russian Federation, including their European subsidiaries.

“Existing contracts that were made before April 9 must also be ended or wound down by October 10, 2022.”

This comes as the EU struggles to impose bans on Russian energy, as the bloc is heavily reliant on Moscow’s natural gas exports.

In the last year, the EU bought a staggering €48.5billion (£38billion) of crude oil, and €22.5billion (£19billion) of petroleum oils other than crude.

The bloc also paid Russia €16.3billion (£13.5billion) for gas in 2021, relying on the fossil fuel for 45 percent of its total supplies.

On the whole, the EU annually imports up to 155 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Russia, which last year accounted for 55 percent of its total supplies.

Due to this reliance, the bloc has struggled to impose a ban on imports of oil and natural, for fear that such an embargo would lead to blackouts all over Europe.

However the recent tragedies in Bucha, Ukraine have given European lawmakers a new push to ban Russian energy.

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Last week, the bloc rolled out its fifth sanctions package against Moscow to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine.

By banning the sale of Russian coal, wood, chemicals and other products, the EU was able to cut ten percent of the total imports from Moscow.

While significant, the end of Russian coal sales is not immediate and will take four months for the EU to finalise and end the contract with Russia.

According to the details of the sanction, EU members cannot sign any new coal supply contracts with Russia, with the blockade fully coming into effect from the second week of August, meaning that Europe will still pay Putin for his coal for the near future.

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