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Russia warns against capping oil and gas prices

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the region is facing an extraordinary situation.

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European Union energy ministers on Friday gathered in Brussels for emergency talks on how to protect households and businesses from runaway gas and electricity prices ahead of winter.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sought to lay the groundwork for Friday’s meeting with a five-point plan. This includes a price cap on Russian gas, a windfall tax on fossil fuel profits, a mandatory target for reducing electricity use and emergency credit lines for power companies.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the proposals by threatening to rip up existing supply contracts if a cap on Russian energy exports is imposed, warning that he was prepared to let Europe “freeze” during the colder months.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Friday reportedly warned that the West failed to understand how energy price caps could impact their own countries. “The collective West does not understand: the introduction of a cap on prices for Russian energy resources will lead to a slippery floor under its own feet,” Zakharova said, according to Reuters.

It is not expected that EU member states will reach a decision on Friday regarding the proposed policy ideas.

EU lawmakers have repeatedly accused Russia of weaponizing energy exports to drive up commodity prices and sow uncertainty across the bloc. Moscow denies using energy as a weapon.

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The 27-nation bloc has endured a sharp drop in gas exports from Russia, traditionally its largest energy supplier, amid the standoff over the Kremlin’s onslaught in Ukraine.

Imported Russian gas to Europe currently stands at 9%, representing a substantial fall from roughly 40% before the war.

The bitter energy dispute between Brussels and Moscow has recently seen Russia completely halt gas flows via a major supply route to Europe, exacerbating the risk of recession and a winter shortage.

Speaking in Brussels ahead of the talks, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told reporters that Friday’s meeting was necessary to provide governments with the right tools to address the deepening energy crisis.

“This is not only about prices,” Simson said. “It is also a challenge on the aspect of the security of supply.”

Energy bills have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and the West responded with a barrage of punitive economic measures.

Renewables needed ‘faster than ever’

“We are facing an extraordinary situation, not only because Russia is an unreliable supplier, as we have witnessed over the last days, weeks, months, but also because Russia is actively manipulating the gas market,” von der Leyen said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I am deeply convinced that with our unity, our determination, our solidarity, we will prevail,” she added.

Europe's energy crisis shows we need a transition to renewables faster than ever, analyst says

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