22nd February 2022, London/ Brussels – As European Ambassadors meet to discuss sanctions against Russia over infringements of Ukrainian sovereignty, Murray Worthy, Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:

“The European Union is right to act swiftly against the latest escalation of Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, its intensive reliance on Russian gas mean it is likely that whatever sanctions regime is agreed, its position is fundamentally weakened.

“Last year 36% of the Russian government’s income came from oil and gas, with 75% of their gas going to Europe. It’s obvious that sanctioning the country’s fossil fuel industry would be a powerful lever against Putin, but with 38% of Europe’s gas coming from Russia, it is a step European leaders are both unwilling and unable to take.

“This conundrum demonstrates the short-sighted and wrong-headed approach of too many of Europe’s political leaders, who remain wedded to the idea that fossil gas – which is bad for the planet, for people’s bills and for our security – is an essential part of the energy mix. Indeed, the amount of Russian gas imported to Europe has gone up since the last flare up with Ukraine in 2014. The lesson for Europe should be fundamentally clear – rapidly phase out fossil gas and bring forward a mass investment programme in clean renewables, energy efficiency and renovating homes. “

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