Putin outsmarted as TWO EU nations strike deal to scupper Kremlin’s grip on Europe

Russia: EU 'completely wrong' to rely on gas says Timmermans

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While the EU has yet to include a gas embargo in a sanctions package amid Putin’s brutal Ukraine, it is certainly searching for ways to reduce its reliance on Russian supplies. As Russia is responsible for 40 percent of the EU’s gas imports, the bloc is desperately searching for alternative sources, as mentioned in its REPowerEU strategy, which lays out how it will phase out Russian oil and gas by 2027. Now, the Dutch Government has announced that Germany and the Netherlands will start producing their own gas in the North Sea.

A gas pipeline is being built to carry the gas onto the shore, while permits for the Dutch to start drilling were issued by State Secretary Johannes Alexander Vijlbrief on Wednesday.

On the German side, the state of Lower Saxony decided against issuing permits for the projects last year.

But it “is now making a different decision because of the war in Ukraine”, according to the Dutch ministry.

This comes after Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom said it would cut the Netherlands’ gas off on May 31 as Dutch gas trader GasTerra refused to pay for the Kremlin’s gas in rubles.

The Russian President had told “unfriendly countries” that they needed to pay for Russian gas in rubles by March 31 or else face a supply cut.

A gas pipeline is being built to carry the gas onto the shore, while permits for the Dutch to start drilling were issued by State Secretary Johannes Alexander Vijlbrief on Wednesday.

On the German side, the state of Lower Saxony decided against issuing permits for the projects last year.

But it “is now making a different decision because of the war in Ukraine”, according to the Dutch ministry.

This comes after Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom said it would cut the Netherlands’ gas off on May 31 as Dutch gas trader GasTerra refused to pay for the Kremlin’s gas in rubles.

The Russian President had told “unfriendly countries” that they needed to pay for Russian gas in rubles by March 31 or else face a supply cut.

Putin clarified that European nations should open up ruble accounts in Russian banks or Moscow would terminate its gas contracts.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warning that paying for Russia’s gas in its own currency would undermine sanctions, some countries have given in.

She said last month: “Our guidance here is very clear.

“If this is not foreseen in the contract, to pay in rubles is a breach of our sanctions.”

But Germany was reportedly told it could still open ruble accounts without breaching sanctions after discussions with the EU.

According to two sources, Berlin then told German gas importers they can open ruble accounts without violating sanctions if their payments to Gazprombank are not in rubles.

Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas, getting around 40 percent of its supplies from Moscow, and had previously signalled opposition to immediately cutting Russian supplies.

But German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck has said could completely phase out Russian gas by the middle of 2024, which is three years ahead of the EU’s target.

As of last month, Germany had handed Russia over €9billion (£7.6billion) since the start of the invasion.

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This was mostly for pipeline gas.

But the country has now secured four floating terminals which have been repurposed to process liquified natural gas (liquified natural gas).

Mr Habeck has said that a build-up of an LNG import structure is crucial for slashing dependence on Russia.

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