Czechs should cut energy dependence on Russia within five years, prime minister says

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala attends a joint meeting with Polish Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 15, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

PRAGUE, April 9 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic should cut its dependence on Russian energy resources within five years, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Saturday, terming the current situation one of the country's "greatest security risks".

The European Union member state meets its gas needs almost entirely through shipments directly or indirectly from Russia, and gets roughly half its crude imports from the same source.

Fiala told his Civic Democratic Party convention that the country's energy sector has to change "completely".

"Our dependence on fossil fuels from Russia, neglected for years, is one of the greatest security risks to our country. It should be our goal to escape this Russian energy noose completely in the next five years," Fiala said.

He added that his government should prepare this "five-year project" in the coming weeks.

The European Union has pledged to quit Russian fuels by 2027, and will unveil a detailed plan to do so in May.

The 27-member bloc approved new sanctions against Russia this week, including a ban on coal imports starting in August, as it aims to punish Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

Moscow calls its offensive a "special military operation" to demilitarise its neighbour. Ukraine and Western supporters call that a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

The EU launched a platform on Friday for its member countries to jointly buy gas and liquefied natural gas as they seek to cut reliance on Russian fuels and build a buffer against supply shocks. read more

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Jan Harvey

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