Brussels says there will be no further sanctions against Moscow – no blocks on imports of Russian goods or EU exports – over the annexation of Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine.
They cannot afford to because of strong economic and business links and Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil despite anger over the Kremlin’s role in Ukraine’s crisis.
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger also confirmed state-run Russian firms can still buy into the European energy sector: “Basically we welcome any investor from outside or within the European Union who invests in infrastructure in order to assure energy security for the citizens of Europe. But in the territory of the European Union they have to fully respect our single market and competition laws.”
The EU and Russian economies are particularly intertwined in energy.
That was underscored by Britain’s BP just signing a joint exploration deal with Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft – in which the Brits have a 20 percent stake.
Rosneft’s chief executive Igor Sechin is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and the target of US sanctions, but at the recent St Petersburg International Economic forum bosses from BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni signaled business as usual and mingled with Sechin and Putin.
And at the same time France’s Total is to join Lukoil, Russia’s largest private oil company, to explore and develop a huge Siberian shale oil field.
As Russia’s western Siberian oil deposits become depleted, Moscow needs Western energy firms to help it exploit shale oil deposits which according to some estimates are bigger than those in the United States.