EU to cut Russian gas use as missiles strike Ukraine

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2022

BRUSSELS: The European Union agreed to reduce gas consumption to break its dependence on Russia Tuesday, as missile strikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast cast doubt on a grain export deal.

The effort to help Germany wean itself off Russian gas for the winter came as Turkey announced a meeting in Russia next week between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan wants Turkey -- on good terms with both Moscow and Kyiv -- at the centre of diplomatic efforts to halt the five-month war, just as the EU took another big step to cut ties to Moscow.

The EU gas use cut, approved by energy ministers in Brussels, was hailed as an effective response to Russia’s manipulation of its energy wealth as an economic weapon.

The plan nominally commits EU countries to reduce their gas use by 15 percent during the winter, although exceptions were carved out for some countries and Hungary rejected the deal as "useless".

"We have made a huge step towards securing gas supplies for our citizens and economies for the upcoming winter," said Czech industry minister Jozef Sikela, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

"I know the decision was not easy, but I think at the end, everybody understands that this sacrifice is necessary," he added.

Hungary was the only country to oppose the plan, which passed on a majority vote, further isolating Budapest as the only member state reluctant to go further against Russia.

"This is an unjustifiable, useless, unenforceable and harmful proposal that completely ignores national interests," said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.