Russia threatens to cut Europe’s gas supplies if oil ban goes ahead and says it would cause ‘catastrophic consequences’

Russia has warned it could cut its gas supplies to the West if there is a ban on Russian oil imports.

It has said it may stop the flow of gas through pipelines from Russia to Germany in response to Berlin’s decision last month to halt the opening of the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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Deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said: “In connection with unfounded accusations against Russia regarding the energy crisis in Europe and the imposition of a ban on Nord Stream 2, we have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.”

“But so far we are not taking such a decision,” he said.


Key developments:

• Ukraine claims senior Russian general has been killed in fighting near Kharkiv• Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he’s ‘not hiding’ as he reveals his location in Kyiv• Ukraine says Russian forces are “deserting in some areas” due to low morale• Russia proposes humanitarian corridors in several cities from 7am GMT today• 300 British visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees so far, says the Home Office

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Is it time to ban Russian oil?

Gas prices, Europe wide, largely resisted taking fright in response to Novak’s comments.

Earlier he said oil prices could double to $300 a barrel if the US and its allies banned imports of Russian oil.

“A rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Mr Novak said.

“European politicians need to honestly warn their citizens and consumers what to expect,” he continued.

“If you want to reject energy supplies from Russia, go ahead. We are ready for it. We know where we could redirect the volumes to.”

Analysts at Bank of America said this was an inflated estimate and the figure would be more like $200 a barrel if most of Russia’s oil exports were cut off and resulted in a shortfall of five million barrels a day.

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer, but the largest exporter, supplying the EU with 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil.

US Secretary Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that it is “imperative” European nations find a way to end their reliance on Russian energy.

There have been repeated calls for the West to cease its use of Russian gas and oil to provide the ultimate economic punishment to Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.

The impact of the invasion is already being blamed for helping push UK fuel prices to a new high.

Petrol prices could hit 160p a litre and diesel 165p a litre in the UK by the end of this week, the RAC has said.

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Oil depot explosion in northern Ukraine

US President Joe Biden is considering a ban on the imports of Russian oil while weighing actions that would limit the impact to prices at the pumps.

He held a video conference call on Monday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as he pushed for their support.

Germany, the biggest buyer of Russian crude oil, has rejected plans to ban energy imports.

It is accelerating its plans to expand its use of alternative energy sources but cannot halt imports of Russian energy overnight, said Mr Scholz.

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The likelihood of Europe refusing to join the United States in any boycott helped keep the cost of Brent crude oil in check on Tuesday at $127 a barrel – down sharply from the highs of $139 seen early on Monday.

Jitters over gas supplies remained clearly evident as prices rose across Europe early on, with the UK contract for natural gas delivery in April up 8% at 587p.

However, the price later fell back to be 9% lower on the previous close at 487p – well down, comparatively, on the record level of almost 800p recorded just 24-hours earlier.

Mr Johnson said the world needs to “move away as fast as possible” from a reliance on Russian energy supplies but there would need to be a “step-by-step transition period” while countries around the world find substitutes.

He added that although the UK could quickly move away from Russian hydrocarbons, as only 2.3% of UK gas comes from Russia, the world needs to move away from Russian hydrocarbons as one.