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PARIS, March 3 (Reuters) - Europe must stop taking gas from Russian state firm Gazprom, Ukraine’s energy minister said on Thursday, bemoaning that supplies to the bloc had increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gazprom said on Thursday that demand from European consumers stood at stood at 109.5 million cubic metres compared to 103.8 million cubic metres a week ago when Russia began to invade its neighbour.
“It’s a question for European companies because they are the sellers and we are just providing the service of transit ... they increased the supply from Russia from the first day of war,” Herman Halushchenko told Reuters in an interview.
“We’d really like them to stop taking the gas. It’s what we say to the Europeans in all the meetings.”
The raft of sanctions from the 27-country EU on Russia have yet to directly target Russia’s oil and gas exports. Doing that would deprive Moscow of a significant chunk of its revenue, but also deal a major economic hit to Europe and could push up already high gas prices.
Europe imports 90% of its gas, some 40% of it from Russia. The EU says it could cope with a partial disruption to Russia flows this winter, thanks to increased liquefied natural gas imports and gas storage.
“Everyone has seen the real consequences of Russian troops ... it’s a big danger to be dependent on one country,” he said.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 a “special operation” designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
Halushchenko said Kyiv was aiming to integrate this month into the EU’s electricity grid, known as the ENTSO-E electricity transmission network, since the invasion meant Ukraine would no longer power from Belarus or Russia.
The EU on Monday said it would urgently link the two systems, a move that would increase the independence of the country’s energy system from Russia.
“We are working everyday to connect technically. The deadline was something around March 14, but we are doing our best to do this quickly,” Halushchenko said. (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Susan Fenton and Frank Jack Daniel)
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