The head of a Russian oil giant says European nations are committing energy suicide by following the United States in imposing sanctions on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil company, Rosneft, said that the Europeans are shooting themselves in the foot by restricting Russian oil and gas imports.
“Europe is committing energy suicide by imposing sanctions on Russia,” Sechin said.
The United States placed an embargo on Russian oil earlier this year, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a military campaign against Ukraine on February 24.
Europe, particularly, has struggled to wean itself off from Russian energy. The continent’s reliance on Russian gas and Moscow’s slashing of supplies in retaliation have proven a headache for the 27-member bloc.
To that aim, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen proposed a gradual ban on Russian oil imports last month. The proposal would ban Russian crude gradually over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of this year..
The EU and Britain also agreed recently to prohibit insurance on tankers carrying Russian oil at the end of last month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the EU “has completely lost its political sovereignty, and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, accepting whatever they are told from above, causing harm to their own population and their own economy.”
Putin previously described the sanctions on his country as a double-edged sword.
Russian gas to Europe falls short amid heatwave
Reports said Russian gas flows to Europe fell short of demand on Friday as temperatures blew past historical records for this time of the year, hitting over 40°C in some places.
Italy and Slovakia reported receiving less than half of the usual volumes through the Nordstream 1 pipeline.
The pipeline, which crosses the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, accounts for around 40% of Russian pipeline flows to the EU.
Nordstream 1 is scheduled for annual maintenance that will halt all flows between July 11 and July 21.
Italy may declare a state of alert on gas next week if Russia continues to curb supplies, according to government sources.
Germany’s energy regulator described the situation as tense, but claimed that German gas supplies were stable for now.
France said it had received no Russian gas from Germany since mid-June.
So far, Russia’s state-owned Gasprom has cut supplies to Denmark’s Orsted and to Shell Energy for its contract to supply gas to Germany.
It has also cut supplies to Bulgaria, Poland and Finland for refusing to make payments for Russian gas in rubles under the new scheme.
Most of the European companies, however, are trying to comply with Moscow’s payment scheme, in order to maintain their gas imports from the energy-rich country.