Von der Leyen discusses energy sanctions

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will hold a press conference ahead of the G20 and COP26 (Glasgow Conference) in Berlaymont, the European Commission’s headquarters on October 28, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Slice Mag that energy sanctions against Russia are still an option if the country invades Ukraine.

Asked about the possibility of imposing sanctions on Russian gas giant Gazprom, von der Leyen said on Saturday: “Everything is on the table.”

Europe imports about 40% of its gas supply from Gazprom, the EU chief told Slice Mag’s Hadley Gamble at the Munich security conference, describing von der Leyen as a “dependency that is not sustainable”.

She said she had successfully contacted alternative suppliers, such as the United States.

“We now had the highest number of energy deliveries in January [from elsewhere]and we now know that if there is a disconnection of Russian gas in retaliation, we can get through this winter without Russian gas, but with supply from others and that’s good,” von der Leyen said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has argued that any sanctions against Russia should not affect energy imports. Italy is one of the largest importers of Russian gas in the European Union.

Von der Leyen insisted it was important not to rule out options, noting that two-thirds of Russia’s energy exports go to Europe and this represents a significant portion of Russia’s budget. She argued that it was therefore not a “smart move” by Russia to disconnect Europe from its gas supply.

Von der Leyen added that she had reassured Draghi that Europe would source gas from elsewhere and that there was a pipeline network across the continent to “bring the necessary gas to Italy so that Italy is also on the safe side.”

Discussing the threat of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, von der Leyen said: “We all want diplomacy to win, but we are preparing for the worst.”

President Joe Biden said on Friday that the US believes Putin has decided to launch an attack on Ukraine “in the coming days”.