EU leaders brace for the loss of ‘weapons-grade’ Russian gas as Vladimir Putin seeks to divide Europe

EU leaders met on Friday to prepare for further cuts in Russian gas, limit the impact on inflation and explore alternative supplies, and accused Moscow of “weaponizing” energy through a supply shortage , which Germany had warned it could partially shut down its industry.

a day after celebrations to put Kyiv on the path to bloc membership, Friday’s summit in Brussels was a sober reflection on the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The notion of cheap energy is gone and the notion of Russian energy is essentially gone and we are all in the process of securing alternative sources,” said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, adding that governments “must support those sections of society that who suffer the most”.

EU-27 leaders will blame the war that began four months ago for a spike in prices and slowing global growth, according to a draft summit statement seen by Reuters.

Cuts in gas supplies from Russia have hit a dozen European countries so far, following unprecedented Western sanctions imposed over the invasion.

“It’s only a matter of time before the Russians cut off all gas supplies,” an EU official said ahead of the talks.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has warned his country of a gas shortage if Russian supplies remain as low as they are now and some industries have to close next winter.

“Companies would have to shut down production, workers would be laid off, supply chains would collapse, people would go into debt to pay their heating bills,” he told Der Spiegel, adding it was part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to divide the country .

The EU relied on Russia for up to 40 percent of its gas needs before the war – rising to 55 percent for Germany – leaving a huge gap to fill an already strained global gas market.

Inflation was the main concern during morning talks between leaders on the EU’s economic health, but there were also positive comments on growth and the summer tourism season, an EU official said.

Inflation in the 19 countries that share the euro currency has shot to an all-time high above 8 percent, and the EU executive expects growth to slow to 2.7 percent this year.

Eurogroup chief Paschal Donohoe warned that the bloc must “acknowledge the risk we could face if inflation seeps into our economies”.

According to a draft statement seen by Reuters, EU leaders will say that “given Russia’s arming of gas,” the European Commission should find ways to “secure supplies at affordable prices.”

“We have to start buying energy together, we have to introduce price caps and we have to make plans together to get through the winter,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on arrival at the summit.

“If we are not careful, the entire EU economy will fall into recession with all its consequences.” EU leaders brace for the loss of ‘weapons-grade’ Russian gas as Vladimir Putin seeks to divide Europe

Fry Electronics Team

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