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30 Mar, 2022 08:36

Ukraine warns EU on renewable energy

Dropping Russian fossil fuels is a moral duty, President Zelensky said
Ukraine warns EU on renewable energy

The EU must speed up the transition to green energy in order to properly punish Russia for its military attack against Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Danish Parliament on Tuesday. He claimed that Moscow was able to launch the assault on his country thanks to oil exports revenues.

Zelensky addressed Danish lawmakers by video-link, in which he claimed that the damage done to his nation by Russia was already worse than that caused by Nazi Germany during World War II, while urging them to increase the pressure on Moscow. He didn't provide any evidence to back up his assertion and it's worth noting that around 7 million Ukrainians died in that conflict. 

“Sanctions against Russia must be ramped up. Constantly. You need to reject Russian oil, block trade with the Russian Federation, close ports to Russian ships,” he said.

He added that the Russian attack serves as another argument for “speeding up [the] ‘green’ transformation on the continent,” arguing that the “crazy revenue from the energy trade allows the Russian leadership to be defiant, to break common rules.”

The Ukrainian president lashed out at EU member Hungary for not being supportive enough of his country in the face of Russian military action. Budapest has previously expressed concern about the treatment of the Hungarian minority in Western Ukraine. 

“Europe should have no place for ‘branches’ of Russia splitting the EU from the inside, trying to help Russia earn even more money,” Zelensky said. “Everybody knows who in the EU opposes humanity and common sense. Who does nothing for peace in Ukraine. This must be stopped, and Europe should stop taking excuses from Budapest.”

The EU declared its intention to wean itself off Russian energy as it imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow in response to the crisis in Ukraine, but acknowledged it would take years to do so. The bloc is particularly reliant on Russian natural gas, which accounts for around 40% of total consumption and 45% of total imports.

Hungary has opposed attempts to restrict energy imports from Russia, saying it depends on them to meet its basic demands. It also refused to allow arms shipments from NATO nations to pass through its territory to Ukraine, citing national security concerns.

Additionally, the standoff over energy has a financial aspect. Russia has announced it no longer intends to sell gas to “unfriendly nations” for dollars or euros, two currencies that depend on Western financial institutions. Western nations seized Russia’s national reserves denominated in these currencies as part of the sanctions war. Moscow wants to be paid in its national currency, the ruble, instead.

Western nations have rejected the demand, saying it violates standing contracts. The EU is now bracing for a potential escalation of tensions and disruption of supplies.