G7 and EU to ban restart of Russian gas pipelines

The move would have no immediate consequence and is highly symbolic

The Yamal-Europe pipeline has been mostly reversed since December 2021, as Poland turned away from buying from Russia in favour of drawing stored gas in Germany. Reuters
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The Group of Seven industrial powers and the EU will ban Russian gas imports on routes where Moscow has cut supplies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing officials involved in the negotiations.

The decision, to be finalised by G7 leaders at a summit in Hiroshima that is starting on Friday, will prevent the resumption of Russian pipeline gas exports on routes to countries such as Poland and Germany, the newspaper said.

It would have no immediate effect but would be highly symbolic.

Europe's purchases of Russian gas went from 40 per cent of total imports to less than 10 per cent in a matter of months after the start of the war in Ukraine. Norway has since become Europe's largest natural gas supplier.

Officials want the break with Russia to remain permanent.

One official told the FT that the move was proposed “to make sure that partners don’t change their mind in a hypothetical future”.

The ban is reportedly being discussed as part of the EU's 11th package of sanctions against Russia.

Media leaks have also indicated that the package may include sanctions against Chinese companies that sell products to Russia that support its war effort in Ukraine.

Moscow cut off gas supplies to Europe last year, blaming maintenance issues and western sanctions.

This was followed by the spectacular sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which were built by Russia's state-owned Gazprom to send natural gas to Germany.

Denmark, Sweden and Germany are still investigating what happened.

Yet most pipelines, such as the Yamal-Europe Pipeline, remain undamaged.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in December that his country was ready to resume supplies via the Yamal-Europe Pipeline.

The pipeline usually flows westward, but has been mostly reversed since December of 2021 as Poland turned away from buying from Russia in favour of drawing stored gas from Germany.

Warsaw terminated its agreement with Russia in May last year after rejecting Moscow's demand to pay in roubles.

Updated: May 14, 2023, 11:16 AM