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EU has spent €35bn on Russian energy since the war began and just €1bn on aid to Ukraine - Borrell

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By Euronews
High Representative Josep Borrell said the difference between aid to Ukraine and payments for Russian energy was "gigantic".
High Representative Josep Borrell said the difference between aid to Ukraine and payments for Russian energy was "gigantic".   -   Copyright  Armin Durgut/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The EU has paid €35 billion for Russian energy since the start of the war compared to the €1 billion it has sent to Ukraine in the form of foreign aid, Josep Borrell, the EU's top diplomat, has said.

"[Ukrainian President] Zelenskyy needs us to tell him less often that he is a hero and give him more weapons to fight.That's what Ukrainians expect from us and that's what we're doing; and we must do it faster. Putting pressure on Russia and arming Ukraine. Help them to combat the invading forces with all the capabilities at our disposal," Borrell told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

"We've given Ukraine nearly €1 billion. That might seem like a lot but €1 billion is what we're paying [Vladimir] Putin every day for the energy he provides us with. Since the start of the war, we've given him €35 billion, compared to the €1 billion we've given Ukraine to arm itself."

The EU's heavy dependency on Russian oil, gas and coal has been laid bare by the war in Ukraine.

A growing chorus of voices is calling on the bloc to implement a total embargo on Russian fossil fuels, which last year amounted to over €99 billion and are credited with funding the Kremlin's war machine.

But the issue has become highly divisive among member states, who have different energy mixes and are therefore unequally exposed to the consequences from a cut-off. While Poland and the Baltic states say the move is a moral duty for the EU, German businesses have warned of a "steep recession" if a complete embargo is introduced.

The debate has reached a new level of intensity after reports emerged of indiscriminate killings against civilians in Bucha, a suburb close to Kyiv.

A new package of sanctions unveiled by the European Commission on Tuesday afternoon proposed a ban on imports of Russian coal, which represent around €4 billion and are the easiest supply to replace.

"Today we put an end to coal, but that's a very small fraction of the total bill," said Borrell.

"Our independence, our energy autonomy, is contingent upon renewable energy and, for the first time, geopolitics and climate change shake hands in a common goal."

The Commission has said it will work on measures related to oil, for which the EU pays over €70 billion annually, but made no mention of gas, on which the bloc spends more than €16 billion.

The latest measures are now being discussed by the 27 member states, who need to approve them by unanimity.