World · June 25, 2022

Russia-Ukraine war: latest news and updates

Credit…Clemens Bilan / EPO, via Shutterstock

BRUSSELS – European leaders gathered in Brussels this week were eager to focus on granting Ukraine EU candidate status, but they also faced an urgent war-related problem: Russia slowly turned off the gas.

The tapering of gas to Germany in recent days has forced the country, the economic engine of Europe, to intensify the energy emergency protocol and to urge the Germans to save energy. The next step is rationing.

EU leaders on Friday called on the European Commission, the executive branch of the bloc, to come up with policy proposals to collectively manage the possibility that Russia, taking advantage of Europe’s enduring dependence on its gas supplies to inflict pain on supporters of the Ukraine, may further reduce gas flow or even cut countries entirely.

“We’ve seen the pattern not just from those past weeks and months, but looking back in hindsight, even last year’s pattern, when you watch Gazprom fill up storage – or should I say don’t fill up storage. , because last year they were at a 10-year minimum, “the commission’s chair, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Friday.

“There are now 12 member states that have been completely or partially cut off,” he added.

Ms von der Leyen said she will ask her experts to come up with a contingency plan to address possible shortages during the winter. The commission has already promoted joint purchasing and storage of gas by EU members as a security measure, a nation should be disconnected. After gas supplies to Bulgaria, for example, were cut off, Greece stepped forward to help supply its neighbor and member of the EU.

But if Russia decides to harm Europe for its support of Ukraine by further cutting supplies from its energy giant, Gazprom, it is far from clear that such ad hoc solidarity would work in the winter, when the block’s energy demand is much higher.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russian fossil fuels, including a broad ban on Russian oil imports that will take effect at the end of the year. But it has not been able to do the same with Russian gas, on which it depends enormously, because it has not yet put in place sufficient alternatives. Gas prices, meanwhile, have risen, costing European buyers dearly and mitigating the effect of sanctions on Russia.

And any solution the European leaders’ motto to the growing problem would take effect in a few months. For now, Member States have to address the possible shortcomings largely on their own.

Ms von der Leyen said she had been asked to present her proposals at the next EU Leaders Summit in October and she expected her staff to finish drafting them in September.

In the meantime, he urged people to use less energy.

“We must not only replace gas, but also always take advantage of the opportunity to save energy. I can’t stress this enough, “she said, adding that Europeans could save a lot if they turned down their air conditioners in the summer and their heaters when the temperature drops.

Gas is not the only pressing issue facing world leaders. Diplomats also gathered in Berlin on Friday, ahead of the G-7 summit in Germany on Sunday, to discuss the growing global food crisis triggered by Ukraine’s inability to export its own grain. Earlier this week, the United Nations said the war had pushed tens of millions of people into food insecurity.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock welcomed the secretary of state Antony Blinken; the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio; and other officials to discuss possible solutions.

Before the war, Ukraine exported millions of tons of grain every month, mainly through seaports that are now blocked. Officials have considered moving grain overland, a much slower and more complicated undertaking.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Blinken said that while the food crisis would continue for some time, it is important not to let Russia get away with violating the basic human rights of the Ukrainian people.