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22 Apr, 2024 11:38

EU to sanction Russian LNG – member state  

The bloc plans to target liquefied natural gas in its 14th package of restrictions, Sweden’s foreign minister has said   
EU to sanction Russian LNG – member state  

The EU plans to target supplies of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) in its 14th package of sanctions against Moscow, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom announced on Monday.   

Speaking ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts, Billstrom told reporters that the next round of sanctions may include an import ban on Russian LNG as well as “measures to curb the Russian shadow fleet.”  

Russia has rerouted practically all of its energy flows to Asia following the introduction of Western restrictions linked to the Ukraine conflict. It has also reportedly begun to move its crude exports on a ‘shadow fleet’ of ageing tankers, over which international sanctions have limited power.  

Although Brussels has banned purchasing oil and petroleum products from Russia, pipeline gas and LNG have not been affected by the restrictions. Several countries, including Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic states, have been pushing for the EU to impose a total embargo on Russian LNG, although Hungary has strongly opposed the move. A complete ban would require unanimity among members of the bloc.  

Some EU states still rely heavily on Russian LNG, which continues to flow into the continent, mostly through ports in Spain, Belgium, and France. In 2023, the EU increased LNG purchases from Russia, despite pledging to phase out fuel imports from the country by 2027, Reuters reported earlier this month, citing the bloc’s trade statistics.  

The EU’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) warned last week against drastic reductions in LNG imports from Russia, given the impending end of the supply of pipeline gas from the country later this year.  

ACER was referring to the expiration in December of a five-year transit contract for gas pipeline supplies from Russia to Europe via Ukraine. Kiev said last month that it has no plans to prolong the deal. If the flow stops, the EU could potentially lose about 4% of last year’s total consumption.  

Western countries will continue to impose sanctions on Russia even though restrictions have largely backfired on their own economies, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on the potential LNG ban.   

“No one here wears rose-colored glasses. We understand that ‘exercises’ with the sanctions will continue,” he said. “It is obvious that, gritting their teeth, they are ready to face a negative impact on themselves,” Peskov added.  

Since February 2022, when the Ukraine conflict began, Brussels has imposed 13 packages of sanctions on Russia.