Energy sanctions against Moscow will be immediately imposed if Russia invades Ukraine, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“We are clear that all options are on the table,” von der Leyen said yesterday in an interview with CNBC. “First of all, a large financial package of sanctions that would cut Russia off from financial markets. A heavy blow to the economy and export controls... On the other hand, it's important to know that... two-thirds of [Russia's] export gas goes to Europe, which is half of the Russian budget."
Von der Leyen says Russia's state-controlled Gazprom supplies 40 percent of Europe's gas needs, creating an "unsustainable" dependency. She said she turned to alternative suppliers, most notably the US, to offset any potential reduction in gas supplies from Russia.
“We had our biggest LNG supply in January, and we already know that if Russian gas is cut off in retaliation, we will be able to survive this winter on supplies from other countries,” she said.
Von der Leyen's comments come just a day after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he believes any future EU sanctions on Russia over Ukraine should not target the energy sector. Italy is a major importer of gas, and Russia is one of the main suppliers.
“We are discussing sanctions with the EU, and during the discussions we have stated our position that they should be limited to narrow sectors, not including energy ... and be proportionate to the type of attack,” Draghi said at a press conference. conference on February 18.
Von der Leyen also said in response to Draghi's comments that she had assured him that "LNG gas from other sources and a network of pipelines across Europe would bring the necessary gas to Italy."