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Johnson calls for ‘step-by-step’ approach to banning Russian oil and gas

The PM said European countries need to secure substitute sources of energy supply if they are to tighten the squeeze on Moscow.

07 March 2022

European countries need to secure substitute sources of energy supply if they are to ban Russian oil and gas imports in a further tightening of the economic squeeze on Moscow, Boris Johnson has warned.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the weekend that Washington was in “very active discussions” with European allies over energy sanctions amid calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for tougher action.

His comments saw gas prices surge by more than 70% to a new all-time high, while the cost of oil reached its highest level for 14 years.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte during a Downing Street press conference (Alberto Pezzali/PA)

But following talks in Downing Street with the prime ministers of Canada and the Netherlands, Mr Johnson called for a “step-by-step” approach as European countries weaned themselves off Russian hydrocarbons.

In the UK, he said ministers were looking at the possibility of using more oil and gas from British sources – although he insisted this did not mean abandoning its commitment reducing carbon emissions.

“It is completely the right thing to do to move away from dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, but we have to do it step by step,” he told a joint news conference.

“We have got to make sure we have substitute supply. One of the things we are looking at is the possibility of using more of our own hydrocarbons

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson and Mark Rutte meet at RAF Northolt (Henry Nicholls/PA)

“That doesn’t mean we are in any way abandoning our commitment to reducing CO2, but we have got to reflect the reality that there is a crunch on at the moment. We need to increase our self-reliance.”

Dutch premier Mark Rutte warned that if countries moved too quickly to ban Russian oil and gas, it could backfire with “enormous consequences”.

He added: “Here we should not make a mistake. We have to make sure that they don’t generate unmanageable risks to energy supply in European countries and beyond, including Ukraine.”

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