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Ukrainian president: European countries still buying Russian gas, oil are making money 'out of blood'

Business Insider US
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seen on March 10, 2022.
  • Europe has struggled to curb its dependence on Russian energy and continues to import it.
  • "We don't understand how you can make money out of blood," Zelenskyy told the BBC.
  • Europe gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia, which has the world's largest reserves.
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European countries still buying Russian energy supplies are making money "out of blood," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told The BBC.

The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in late February to hobble the country's economy, including restrictions on its energy exports. But the European Union has done little to cut off Russian natural gas and oil, given its heavy reliance on both.

When asked about how some countries have continued buying Russian imports, Zelenskyy said: "We don't understand how you can make money out of blood."

"Unfortunately, this is what some countries have been doing," he continued, according to a translation by the BBC. "European countries."

He went on to single out Hungary and Germany, which are two of the biggest consumers of Russian oil and gas. Both have rejected imposing sanctions on Russian energy.

"We need to talk together with these countries on how it's possible for their to be different attitudes to this issue – the oil embargo – within the European Union," Zelenskyy said.

Russian natural gas has continued to flow through major pipelines, despite the pressure on the EU to cut its imports.

Russia has the world's largest natural gas reserves and is the third-biggest oil producer, accounting for about 12% of global oil production.

In early March, US President Joe Biden pledged to ban Russian energy imports. But the US has little reliance on Russian energy supplies, and only 8% of its crude and refined product imports in 2021 came from Russia, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Europe, in comparison, gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia and 30% of its oil.

The European Commission has said it could reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year under a plan to diversify supplies and speed up the rollout of renewable gases. The EU has agreed to stop imports of Russian coal starting later this year, but hasn't yet announced an embargo on gas or oil.

Germany – Europe's largest economy – said in late March it expected to halve its Russian oil imports by the middle of the year and be "virtually independent" by the end of the year. It predicted a slightly faster trajectory for coal imports.

But winding down its reliance on Russian gas is harder. Germany got around two-thirds of its gas imports from Russia in 2020, according to the country's federal network agency. Economists estimate Germany could lose 220 billion euros ($240 billion) in economic output, or 6.5%, over the next two years if Russian gas were halted immediately.

The country's economy minister said Germany could become "largely independent" of Russian gas by 2024. In late February, Germany halted plans for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a route between Russian gas-production sites and mainland Europe.

Russia's finance ministry said last week that revenue from the country's oil and gas sales in March was 38% lower than it had initially forecast, despite a surge in the price of both fuels in the past couple of months.


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