image Photo: Reuters

Putin warns EU to prepare for freezing winter

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off all energy supplies to Europe if it imposes propsed limitations on gas imports from Moscow.

By Erin Viner

The West it would be “frozen” like a wolf’s tail in a famous Russian fairy tale warned Putin.

“We would only have one thing left to do: as in the famous Russian fairy tale [“The Sister-Fox and the Wolf”], we would sentence the wolf’s tail to be frozen,” Putin said.

Europe usually imports about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.

The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy democracies announced plans to implement price caps on Russian oil exports last week in a move that could also restrict Russia’s ability to secure tankers and insurance from countries beyond the G7.

“We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” the Russian leader said at an economic forum in Vladivostok, “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything,” deeming such a move by the EU as “stupid.”

He also questioned a United Nations-brokered deal to export grain from Ukraine.

Restricting supplies from Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world’s top natural gas exporter, increases the risk of rationing in some of the world’s richest countries this winter – while leaving the world economy facing even higher energy prices.

European Union (EU) governments are already paying to prevent the collapse of their energy providers collapsing and bring down sky-high gas prices that would leave cash-strapped customers freezing during the approaching winter.

“We will propose a price cap on Russian gas… We must cut Russia’s revenues which Putin uses to finance this atrocious war in Ukraine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said while speaking to journalists.

Europe has accused Russia of weaponizing energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Since he ordered the 24 February military operation in Ukraine, Putin says the United States and its allies have embarked on economic war on Russia with the most severe punitive measures in modern history.

Amid the escalating tensions, he has threatened to rip up existing contracts. President Putin additionally said Germany and Western sanctions are responsible for the energy crisis facing Europe, which became even more acute after Russia’s Gazprom firm suspended gas supplied through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany after it claimed to have discovered an engine oil leak during maintenance work last week.

The impact of the surge in prices is forcing companies to curb production and governments to spend billions on support to cushion consumers from the impact. New British Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to unveil her own plan today as the cost of a price freeze is estimated spike to about £100 billion pounds (€1.15 Euro).

EU energy ministers are planning to hold an emergency meeting on the matter tomorrow.