Putin’s former aide, Dr Andrey Illarionov, claims sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas, which the country still receives billions for, would be a “very effective” instrument to end the war. He told the BBC that if the West “would try to implement a real embargo on oil and gas exports from Russia … I would bet that probably within a month or two”. He added: “Russian military operations in Ukraine, probably will be ceased, will be stopped.”
Dr Illarionov, who was also Putin’s chief economic adviser and G8 representative between 2000 and 2005, added: “It’s one of the very effective instruments still in the possession of the Western countries.”
While the UK has pledged to phase out Russian oil and has mulled over a gas ban, the US has embargoed oil, coal and liquified natural gas.
But all eyes are on the EU, which has reportedly handed Putin €35billion (£29billion) for fossil fuel imports since the start of the invasion in mid-February, according to Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell.
Berlin, which gets a third of its gas from Russia, has been one of the major voices in the 27-member union pushing back against cutting off these imports arguing that it would be too damaging for the German economy.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, has blown his top over Germany’s reluctance.
He has accused Germany of “standing in the way” of stricter punishments for Russia.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also said to be furious at Germany for hamstringing a tough EU response, reportedly believing the stance to be “embarrassing”.
Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of an immediate ban on all Russian fossil fuels, unleashing fury at the European Commission for its hesitancy.
Spanish MEP Luis Garicano launched a scathing attack on the EU Commission for this delay, arguing that it is “not even trying”.
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Around 40 percent of EU gas supplies come from Russia alone, and last year, the bloc imported a staggering €48.5billion (£38billion) of crude oil in 2021 and €22.5billion (£19billion) of petroleum oils other than crude.
Hungary is also one of the key dissenting members fearful of the impacts of cutting off Russian oil and gas.
Hungary’s Secretary of State for international communication Zoltan Kovacs told Express.co.uk: “This is a red line for us.
“As a matter of fact, we see so many words and claims out there, which try to suggest that this is possible.
“But everybody knows that what they are suggesting by embargo and sanction policies regarding energy cannot be done.
“In the case of Hungary, that would mean an immediate collapse of the Hungarian economy, basically, and certainly would endanger the Hungarian population.”
And on Tuesday, Germany, Austria and Hungary managed to exempt oil from a sanction package after arguing including it would ramp up inflation.
As well as Poland, France Italy and several Baltic nations have signalled support for tougher sanctions after evidence or Russian war crimes in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, emerged.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is in Algeria today in a bid to slash its gas dependence on Russia.
Algeria is already Italy’s second-largest gas supplier and could ramp up its gas exports to Italy by 50 percent.
And the bloc has now agreed on a sanction package for coal, the least expensive of Putin’s hydrocarbons, costing the bloc €5.2billion (£4.3billion) last year.
But this ban will not take effect until mid-August.