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5 April 2022

The EU is still paying Russia hundreds of millions of euros a day for gas

Europe has imported up to €18bn of gas from Russia since the war in Ukraine started.

As evidence emerges that Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, Western leaders continue to ponder harsher energy sanctions against them. 

Modelling by the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel suggests that Europe’s gas imports from Russia were as valuable as €838m on 7 March. Since then, although gas prices have fluctuated, estimates of how much the EU pays to Russia each day have generally remained above pre-war levels. Yesterday (4 April), the value of this trade could have been somewhere between €389m and €470m.

Exactly how much the EU has paid for Russian gas is not known since gas is sold on a variety of contracts at different prices. The EU could have imported €18bn worth of gas from Russia since the start of the war however, based on its current value. But based on last month’s average prices, this could have been €12.7bn since 24 February. The actual price that Europe pays Russia daily is likely to fall somewhere between the two lines on the chart, according to Bruegel.

Fossil fuel exports – oil, gas and, to a lesser extent, coal – make up the majority of Russia’s export earnings, with oil and gas contributing 45 per cent to Russia’s federal budget.

While the EU has been slow to block Russian energy – which accounts for 40 per cent of its gas, 40 per cent of its diesel and 30 per cent of its oil – Politico has reported that the bloc may be moving closer to such a step. Germany, which receives around two thirds of its gas imports from Russia, has in recent weeks held out against such an embargo.

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