MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Europe cannot stop importing gas from Russia since doing so would constitute “economic suicide,” which means that the United States’ pressure on Europe in this respect has its limits, Frank Schauff, CEO of the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Russia, said Wednesday.
“The European energy industry depends not only on the Russian gas itself but it’s depending on comparatively cheap gas supply from Russia… Obviously, we, the Europeans, cannot abandon the import of Russia’s gas because it will be economic suicide. So the Americans have a limit of pressure they can exert on the Europeans”, Schauff said at the Valdai discussion club.
He noted that the bloc would be “dependent” on Russian gas as long as it was cheaper than if purchased from other sources such as the United States.
“While the EU is willing, in principle, to buy US’s LNG as part of its energy diversification, it is not prepared to buy it at any price. Until US LNG matches the price of Russian pipeline gas, it stands no chance against Russian gas supplies in most European countries”, Schauff explained.
He also stated that problems in Europe’s energy policy must be decided upon in Europe, not Washington.
“The question of American sanctions, generally speaking, which not only hit Russia but also hit Europeans as the main trading and economic partners of Russia, is something which creates concern in Europe, because the Americans are in the end trying to regulate the foreign economic relations of the Europeans … In Europe, many politicians and experts believe that US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be the wrong way to solve the dispute of energy supply”, Schauff stressed.
He also urged the United States to not disregard Russia’s importance in global energy markets.
“US should take it into consideration that most US and European multinational companies do business with Russia and that, certainly, Russia is one of the most important players on the international energy markets, if not the most important one. It’s also a destination for the investments from the US and Europe,” Schauff said.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Gazprom and five European companies. The project envisages the construction of two gas pipelines that will run from Russia, through the Baltic Sea and to a hub in Germany, bypassing Ukraine entirely.
It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas to the EU states every year. The project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by others, including the United States. Commenting on Washington’s position on the matter, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his US counterpart, Donald Trump, wanted to protect the interests of US businesses when it came to exporting LNG to Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has noted that Berlin considers Nord Stream 2 to be a commercial project. Russia, in turn, has repeatedly stated that the project was completely commercial and competitive, insisting that it did not imply that the transit of Russian gas to the European Union through Ukraine would be terminated.