EU risks letting Putin’s gas divide-and-rule strategy win

(EurActiv, 29 Apr 2022) The 2 May meeting of EU energy ministers should deliver strong and common EU action. Failing to do so would undermine Europe’s unity, energy security and foreign policy, write Agata Łoskot-Strachota, Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann.

The Russian demand for EU companies to make gas payments in roubles and the shape of the scheme for making these payments has become an instrument that divides the EU Member States. A division resembles the traditional East-West divide that traditionally characterised European energy policy decisions concerning Russia, such as Nord Stream 2.

This does not come as a surprise, as since its inception, the Russian demand has appeared to be a divide-and-rule strategic tool aimed at weakening the European response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by leveraging Russia’s most strategic asset in Europe, gas, and the different dependencies on this across the continent.

The Russian demand is problematic for at least three main reasons. First, it allows Russia to supply those partners which the Kremlin chooses to selectively. This can be done, for instance, by providing to these companies a certification that their contractual obligation has been fulfilled with the payment in Euros/Dollars into a Gazprombank account in order not to violate EU sanctions or granting exemption from the gas-for-ruble duty to chosen companies.

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EurActiv, 29 Apr 2022: EU risks letting Putin’s gas divide-and-rule strategy win