EU Gas Transactions Fund Putin’s War Efforts with Billions

EU’s substantial purchases of Russian LNG indirectly finance Russia’s military operations. Spain and France emerge as principal consumers despite promises of sanctions.

The Telegraph reports that the European Union has discreetly backed Russia’s war efforts this year by purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG), with the sum totaling approximately 6.1 billion euros (around $6.6 billion). Despite aims to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels, LNG shipments from Russia to Europe have seen an uptick. The EU has procured over half of Moscow’s LNG exports, with Spain and France being significant purchasers after China.

Spain and France: Top Importers

Eurostat’s trade data, as compiled by The Telegraph, reveals that Spain bought Russian LNG worth about 1.8 billion euros (approximately $1.95 billion) in the first nine months of the year. France was the second-largest buyer, with purchases amounting to 1.5 billion euros (around $1.62 billion), followed by Belgium acquiring Russian LNG worth 1.36 billion euros (approximately $1.47 billion). Countries like Estonia and Lithuania, despite their strong support for Kyiv, have continued to transfer funds for Russian LNG to Moscow, according to The Telegraph.

These transactions are likely to generate significant revenues for Russia, especially at a time when EU nations are seeking to cut off financial resources for Putin’s regime amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This situation is highlighted by The Telegraph in the context of Russia’s military budget, which recently rose to a third of its total spending. Compared to 2021, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the purchase of Russian LNG has surged by 40%, despite EU’s plans to end the use of Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

Spain’s Continued Dependence on Russian Gas

Since the war began, pipeline gas flows from Russia to Europe have plummeted to all-time lows, with LNG being used to bridge the supply gap. Despite EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson’s urge to lessen reliance on Russian LNG and the UK’s ban on Russian gas imports last December, Spain and Belgium show no indication of prohibiting Russian LNG. Their high purchase volumes are attributed to stockpiling by traders in their ports. The European Commission notes that the decision on EU sanctions rests with member states, who must agree unanimously.

Image: kees torn, VLADIMIR RUSANOV (40999787704, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, (No changes made)

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