Russia’s attack on Ukraine creates a completely new environment and demands for the European Union’s energy policy. It is necessary to verify the Fit for 55 package and postpone the selected climate goals by at least a few years. The priority must be to cut off Russia from the enormous profits derived from fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal. The funds Russia generates from this business are consistently spent on armaments and used in attacks against sovereign nations. Despite Russia’s attack on Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014), the European Union has increased its energy dependence on Russia in recent years. A full-scale attack on Ukraine must lead to a reevaluation. If we want to be credible, consistent with the democratic and free world, we must weaken Putin’s regime as soon as possible.
The first step should be to urgently withdraw Russian coal from European purchases. Coal is a commodity available in various parts of the world and an embargo on Russian coal should be introduced immediately. We are able to replace our own needs with product from other directions. We have to be ready for more expensive purchases of this raw material, but there is no doubt that it is possible in the current situation.
The second and fundamental move is to prepare a plan to quickly abandon purchases of oil and gas from Russia. As for oil, most European countries have substantial reserves of this raw material. The reserves in Poland are to last for about 2 months. The oil, like coal, is quite liquid and can be purchased from various sides. This requires the infrastructure (ports) and their capacity to supply selected refineries at Member State level. Russia is the second largest exporter of this fuel in the world. Europe buys 2.3 million barrels of oil from Russia, worth over $70 billion. Deliveries are made via seaports and pipelines. The main pipeline in the European direction is “Przyjaźń”. On the territory of Belarus it is divided into the northern (through Poland to Germany) and southern thread (through Ukraine to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic). The dependence of individual states in the European Union on Russian oil varies. It is greater in countries that are in the pipeline network. Therefore we need some time to change the country of origin of the raw material. However, it is technically feasible.
The situation with natural gas is politically the most difficult. Germany is a very large and influential partner in the distribution of gas from Russia at the EU level (joint implementation of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 projects). Currently, the European Union purchases approx. 30% of this raw material from Russia (140 billion m3 of gas). The situation obviously differs at the level of the Member States. The largest share of Russian gas is in Finland (94%), Bulgaria (77%) and Slovakia (70%). Russia supplies Germany with about half of the gas it needs. In Poland, the share of Russian gas currently amounts to 40%. Due to the implementation of the Baltic Pipe project, Poland will be completely independent of Russia by the end of 2022. Earlier, Poland completed and expanded the LNG terminal. According to the current announcements, the deadline for leaving Russian gas is not in danger.
Theoretically, Russian gas can be replaced by other suppliers. There is a sufficient supply of this raw material on a global scale. This requires the availability and capacity of LNG terminals and the subsequent ability to transport gas to selected Member States. This does not appear to be possible in the short term in every Member State. Therefore, it is necessary to implement new investments in stages, in accordance with the adopted schedule, and reduce supplies from Russia. There is no doubt, however, that in countries with extensive infrastructure, Russian gas should be replaced immediately.