Von der Leyen: Europe's winter will be fine without Russian gas

Europe can survive this winter despite Russian energy giant Gazprom “deliberately” reducing gas supplies, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday.

“Even in case of full disruption of gas supply from Russia, we are on the safe side for this winter,” von der Leyen told the Munich Security Conference, noting that Brussels has already diversified its gas suppliers to be ready in case Gazprom turns off its taps.

“For the time being we would be able to replace the Russian gas with LNG [liquefied natural gas] deliveries that we get from our friends all over the world,” she added.

Energy supply is emerging as a key aspect in ongoing tensions between Western countries and Russia as several major EU countries, such as Germany and Italy, heavily depend on Russian gas.

“A strong European Union cannot be so reliant on an energy supplier that threatens to start a war on our continent. Gazprom, a Russian state-owned company, is deliberately trying to store and deliver as little as possible,” she said.

The Commission president insisted that Europe is prepared to face a possible cut of Russian gas thanks to the help of alternative suppliers, including the US, and that European energy infrastructure could even be used to supply gas to Ukraine, if needed.

Von der Leyen also warned that Europe should accelerate its transition to sustainable energy sources, also as a way to be independent from Russian gas.

“We must diversify both our suppliers and our energy sources,” she said, noting that “we are doubling down on renewables” and that “this will increase Europe’s strategic independence for energy.”

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