EU depends on Russia for a third of its gas supplies and any interruption would worsen an existing energy crisis.
The head of NATO has said Europe needs to diversify its energy supplies, as the United Kingdom warned it was “highly likely” that Russia, the continent’s biggest natural gas supplier, was looking to invade Ukraine.
The European Union depends on Russia for about a third of its gas supplies and any interruption would exacerbate an existing energy crisis caused by a shortage.
“We are concerned about the energy situation in Europe because it demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas and that’s the reason why NATO allies agree that we need to work and focus on diversification of supplies,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.
Tensions have risen as Russia has amassed some 120,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border and demanded the Western defence alliance pull back troops and weapons from Eastern Europe and bar Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from ever joining NATO.
Stoltenberg said NATO had no plans to deploy combat troops to non-NATO member Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, adding “we are focusing on providing support”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Russia to pull back its troops and continue dialogue with the West if it is “serious” about de-escalating tensions.
Moscow denies any plan to invade but said on Sunday it would ask NATO to clarify whether it intends to implement key security commitments, after earlier saying the alliance’s response to its demands did not go far enough.
“If they do not intend to do so, then they should explain why,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on state television. “This will be a key question in determining our future proposals.”
The head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, also rejected Western warnings about an invasion.
“At this time, they’re saying that Russia threatens Ukraine – that’s completely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Tass. “We don’t want war and we don’t need it at all.” Read More