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European Commission President: Russia Puts Military Pressure on Ukraine and Uses Gas as Lever of Influence on EU

Ursula fon der Lyaen

The European Union has formed a “strong and comprehensive” set of sanctions against the Russian Federation in case it invades Ukraine. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is also part of this package, and the operation of the pipeline depends on the behaviour of Russia, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with the French newspaper Les Echos.

“In this acute crisis, everything will depend on Russia’s position, which is putting military pressure on Ukraine and using gas as a lever to influence us. Therefore, Nord Stream 2 cannot be excluded from the list of sanctions. It is absolutely clear,” the head of the European Commission believes.

At the same time, in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt, she said that Gazprom, fulfilling its obligations under contracts with European partners, “does the minimum.”

“Gazprom is fulfilling its contracts, but doing the bare minimum … Other gas suppliers have increased supplies amid rising demand and record prices, but Gazprom has not. In this way, the Russian-owned company sows doubts about its reliability,” Ursula von der Leyen said.

She is convinced that Europe is not threatened by a shortage of supplies as long as Gazprom fulfills its obligations. In general, relying on Russian gas in the long term is associated with risks.

In addition, during her visit to Helsinki, the President of the European Commission noted that the Russian Federation is responsible for creating the current security crisis in Europe, caused by Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine. Accordingly, Russia must take steps to return to the path of peace and dialogue, and any other path will have severe economic and political consequences.

“This crisis was created by Russia. We are doing our best to make diplomacy and dialogue successful … We are coordinating this effort very closely with our partners and friends, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Our answer is very clear: if there is any further military aggression against Ukraine, it will lead to financial and economic sanctions. We hope that this will not be necessary and Russia will return to the path of peace and dialogue,” von der Leyen said.

As a reminder, a number of world leaders have recently held talks with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

As part of the diplomatic efforts to resolve the security situation, French President Emmanuel Macron will pay visits to Russia and Ukraine next week. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also announced plans to visit Moscow in the near future.

Bohdan Marusyak

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