Any EU country could be next victim of Russian energy cuts, says commissioner

A pressure gauge at the facility of the RWE Gas Storage near the town of Pribram, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.
A pressure gauge at the facility of the RWE Gas Storage near the town of Pribram, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Copyright Petr David Josek/AP
By Aida Sanchez Alonso
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The European Commission is due to publish proposals on a potential Russian oil embargo, following a meeting of energy ministers in Brussels.


Brussels says it is preparing for difficult months ahead in the energy sector, following an extraordinary meeting of the bloc's energy ministers on Monday to discuss its strategy after Russia decided to cut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria last week.

Now, the EU is working to ensure that continent's gas storage will be full by autumn. It's currently at 32% and according to the bloc's energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, any member state could be the next victim of Moscow's energy cuts.

Brussels is working in parallel on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, that will focus on a phased-out embargo of oil. Germany, previously one of the main opponents, is now agreeing to it.

"After two months of work, I can say that Germany is not against an oil ban on Russia," Robert Habeck, the German climate and economics minister said on Monday. "Of course, it is a heavy load to bear, but we are ready to do that...We have to prepare the hubs, we have to prepare the pipelines. So, time is helpful, but other countries have bigger problems."

The proposal may be announced by the European Commission as soon as Tuesday.

But Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel, the plan must be handled with care.

"If we are now moving to sanction Russian oil with a gradual embargo, Russia might respond immediately by saying, okay, then we cut the gas," Tagliapietra said. "And giving Russia this strategic game, may not be the best option for the EU. It might be better for the EU to put a tariff immediately on both oil and gas coming from Russia into the European Union."

Some countries are calling for a punitive import tax on Russia energy instead of an embargo.

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