The European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, ruled out on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a cut in oil and gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the West.
Russia “needs to sell its oil and gas”, Borrell said in an interview with EFE within the framework of the Doha Forum, in which he participated today alongside political leaders and strategists from around the world gathered in the Qatari capital to analyze a range of issues of major global concern, such as the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis and climate change.
The Spanish diplomat stressed that Moscow obtains “a considerable amount of the financial resources it needs from the sale of hydrocarbons, because the sanctions have blocked the assets that the Russian Central Bank has in American, European and Japanese banks”, although he acknowledged that “they are not all the assets” it has, because Moscow “has many in China and other countries in which (the West) cannot operate”.
“Not all assets, but we have blocked a very important part of their foreign exchange reserves”, he assured.
However, he acknowledged that Putin is an unpredictable person from whom anything can be expected: “I’m not in Putin’s head and I don’t know what he’s going to do. I never thought he would invade, and more than invade, destroy Ukraine as he is doing,” he said.
Europe finds itself in a contradictory situation as, on the one hand, it wants to shut down Russia’s oil and gas imports to isolate and hit it even harder in response to the war in Ukraine, its economic sanctions have already had the side effect of increasing energy prices, which are hitting consumers hard.
To counter this increase, European countries are trying to convince other hydrocarbon-producing nations to increase their production, an effort that is in part part of the EU High Representative’s trip to Kuwait today, after his participation in the Doha Forum.
Borrell, however, insisted on the need to maintain and intensify sanctions against Russia, as Putin “is pulverizing” Ukrainian cities.
“As it cannot conquer them, it is bombing them, causing a huge number of civilian casualties,” he said.
Regarding voices in the US calling for more action against Russia and the debate over where the line should be drawn, Borrell said there were no differences between the allies.
“We haven’t talked about red lines. We know what we have to do and we do it,” he said.
“We provide Ukraine with weapons to defend itself, weapons to defend itself, and we apply sanctions to Russia to weaken it, especially the economy that revolves around Putin and the people who support him, the famous oligarchs and the leaders of this political system. And that’s it. what we are doing and that is what we will continue to do”, he said.
But he stressed that if the United States decided to ban imports of Russian oil and gas, it was because “they import very little, if not almost nothing”, while European countries “import a lot”.
“A small difference. Giving up what you don’t have is fine, but when you have it, you have to think twice before making a decision, and at the moment (…) the Heads of State and Government have not made this decision” .
Some countries, such as France, have been in favor of maintaining the ban on Russian gas imports as an option, which is opposed by others, especially Germany.
Regarding the resolution of the conflict, the diplomat said that the EU is contributing to finding a diplomatic solution, because “all wars end, and the sooner the better, with a ceasefire first and a peace agreement later”.
“These things are done discreetly, but there are lines of work to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible and put an end to the suffering of the Ukrainian people”, while predicting that the peace negotiations “will undoubtedly be long and difficult, but the important thing is to stop this war (…) which should never have started, which has no justification and which is causing enormous suffering”.
“There are almost four million exiles (…) and 12 million internally displaced people. At the moment, half of the Ukrainian children (…) have had to flee their homes. Some have gone abroad and others are in other parts of the country. country. It is a humanitarian tragedy that this war is causing”, he concluded.
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