So much for a Russia reset. Observers are already declaring the death of EU foreign policy following a humiliating trip to Moscow by European High Representative Josep Borrell. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has warned the Kremlin is ready for a complete “break” with the EU, severing existing ties should Brussels dare to implement a new round of targeted sanctions.

Lavrov is (probably) bluffing. Russia is dependent on energy exports to the EU in order to prop up a corrupt and inefficient economy. Yet, at the same time, the EU also depends on Russian energy to keep the lights on; Russia is the EU’s main supplier of crude oil (30%), natural gas (40%) and solid fossil fuel such as coal (42%). Both partners need one another (though that mutual energy dependency may change as the EU transitions away from fossil fuels).

Should the EU work to reduce its dependency on Russia? French President Emmanuel Macron has argued there cannot be peace in Europe without engaging Russia. Others, however, have criticised this approach, with some describing it as engagement for its own sake without any broader strategy behind it. The humiliation of Borrell in Moscow has hopefully demonstrated that Europe first needs to work out what it wants to say to Russia, and talk only when it is appropriate to talk.

Can the EU afford to cut ties with Russia? Should Europe cancel the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project and work harder to reduce its energy dependence on the Russian Federation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) European Union, 2021


92 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Kostas

    Reducing dependency on Russian energy was something that the EU should have pursued for a long time now…

    • avatar
      George

      Why?It was Ukraine which was stealing EU’s gas. Saudi Arabia imprisons women for driving a car… so we should stop any oil imports from there.

    • avatar
      John

      Kostas Tsotsanis Yeah, now if Germany could get the memo, that’d be great.

  2. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    Russia is the biggest European country.E.U. must improve relations with it at maximum level

  3. avatar
    Christos

    Well keep sanctioning them and eventually you will have a large unstable and hostile country right to your borders. Not very wise is it? Stop playing America’s games to serve their interests Europe. After all, they don’t have direct borderline with Russia. And it is all about financial interests nothing more. The US and their Western European Atlanticist allies just want a weaker economically Russia to spread their own influence and interests to the East. If you were Russia and had all your former western territories being cut off your sphere and influence, severely hurting your finances wouldn’t you protest? And why can’t these countries maintain some ties with Russia and belong in both economic spheres, instead having to be literally taken and cut off from their Russian ties, just so Atlanticists can have their wet dreams of Western dominance!

    • avatar
      John

      Christos Mouzeviris Or, you know, they don’t want to reward a country for blatantly flouting international law. Over and over again.

    • avatar
      Christos

      John MT really? How? Who’s laws again? Did NATO countries got punished for invading Iraq without UN approval? That wasn’t breaking international law that just was!!

    • avatar
      Franco

      Christos Mouzeviris I agree !

    • avatar
      John

      Christos Mouzeviris Right, and what’s your point? It was bad that certain NATO countries invaded Iraq without UN approval therefore… let’s let Russia invade a country without UN approval? Or are you just fine with countries invading other countries?

    • avatar
      Christos

      John MT I’m not fine with any country invading other country but if we want to point the finger towards others then we should be making sure that we are not doing exactly the same. Otherwise we are just hypocrites!

    • avatar
      John

      Christos Mouzeviris Yes, countries behave differently in different times under different leaders. Bush is not Obama is not Trump is not Biden. What matters is what YOU think. Do YOU think we should sanction countries that invade other countries? If so, you should be thrilled the EU is sanctioning Russia!

    • avatar
      Christos

      John MT I’m not thrilled because as I explain above the motive is not to punish them for “invading” rather to keep them economically weak and out of Europe. My vision is different. Europe independent from either America and Russia but in close cooperation with both. The more it sides with America to spite Russia, Europe will never independent, will always spend billions for arms, and will always do the US dirty work in Eastern Europe. And yes as I am very fair minded person, if I am to condone sanctions against Russia, I’d like to see some for USA please….!! What? No?

  4. avatar
    Franco

    The EU should not be hostile to Russia , we can´t afford to break with the country . The both EU and Russia need to live in a friendly neighbourly .

  5. avatar
    George

    Why do we need to “cut ties with Russia”? To save USAn markets?Because USA told us to do it? We should start by cutting ties with countries like Saudi Arabia, which imprisons women for driving a car!Then we need to expel all USAn military forces occupying EU, and start investigation into the politicians who put USAn interests ahead of EU’s, because that’s treason.

    • avatar
      John

      George Thomson Why not both Russia and Saudi Arabia?

  6. avatar
    Paul

    Russia is just saudi with trees….if it wasn’t for countries (notably Germany in eu) falling over themselves to buy their fossil fuel exports, they would be broke.Time for the EU to get serious & break the dependency.

  7. avatar
    Vivian

    Why all this sensitivity on Russia when no such sensitivity is shown towards Turkey, that occupies an EU member state, threatens to invade another member state and persecutes millions of its own citizens? The double standard is too much to bear and Russia may have just realized that. If the EU wants to pursue a human – rights based policy, it could start with Julian Assange and his persecutors, move on to Erdogan and then it might just have the moral superiority to preach to Russia.

    • avatar
      Franco

      Vivian Dimitriou there is a lot of hypocrisy in everything the EU does not just within the EU as well in Turkey, Syria, and Iran and now UK against brexit.

    • avatar
      John

      Vivian Dimitriou On what basis are you singling out Turkey. It wouldn’t happen to be because you’re from Cyprus? Shouldn’t we just condemn all illiberal countries – be it Hungary, Poland, Turkey, China, Russia or the US under Trump?

    • avatar
      Vivian

      John MT you have chosen to attack me ad hominem. And your point is that no Cypriot can mention Turkey? Please answer my points instead of focusing on my profile.

    • avatar
      John

      Vivian Dimitriou That wasn’t an ad hominem. I’m asking: is the reason you’re mentioning Turkey because of what they’ve done in Cyprus? I found it strange of you to randomly mention Turkey when the topic is about Russia. If we’re going to mention countries not brought up, why not bring up ALL illiberal countries? Let’s ALSO be tougher on Hungary, Poland, China and the rest of the gang.

    • avatar
      Vivian

      John MT the reasons are mentioned in my post. China does not occupy any EU members and PL, HU don’t either. I believe your comments are prejudiced.

  8. avatar
    Jesper

    No. While I fully agree that the way Russia is acting is problematic – to say the least. We should always try to work together in order for everyone to move forward. If we cut ties with Russia, there will be no one to support the democratic movement there still exists within the Russian borders. However, we should still sanction Russia and put pressure on their government in order to secure human rights and freedom for the Russian people. But we can’t do that if we completely cut the ties.

  9. avatar
    Jevgeni

    I think most people are affected by media which shows only one point of view. Russians have a joke on this topic: “NATO is accusing Russia that Russia comes too close to NATO’s borders and therefore NATO will increase their military budget”. Oh, wait, it is not so joke. Same in relations with Europe unfortunately, too much things might not be as they seem and there is too much of Global politics that we, as normal people, cannot understand and we, unfortunately, learn about our opinion on this topic form the media.

  10. avatar
    Xirristi

    We can afford to cut Borrell’s tie at the very least. Half-way down or at knot’s level. Either way I would love to see it…

  11. avatar
    oldgnat

    Cutting ties with Putin, but not the Russian people or their fight for a fit for purpose Justice system and the reform of a brutal police department, carrying out the violent will of a vicious dictator. Love & respect to the Russian people who are refusing to accept anymore if the sh÷t that Putin and his cronies have been fishing out for decades. votesmart.appspot.com make your vote count and be counted. ❤️

  12. avatar
    random__looney

    We can afford it but we must not. The Russian people are our allies and we must support them to the very end

  13. avatar
    instamedario

    Europe has to show Russia that it means business otherwise Putin’s KGB mentality will keep testing boundaries – it’s as simple as that. The mechanisms to do that are what should be debated until there is regime change in Russia.

  14. avatar
    feodoravonw

    Unfortunately the price for it will pay russian people as it was always. Not russian oligarchs or government or other leading ones, who are guilty for all the lies, and the unhumanitistic justice of Russia.

  15. avatar
    Μάρκος

    Let’s be Justice and Impartial : First….Sanctions to Islamofascist Dictator Erdogan and Islamist Turkey that Violates any International Law and don’t respect any Decision of U.N. or ECHR … After, Sanctions to China which is the True Danger of the Civilised World in the future …. And then…maybe … sanctions to Russia ! Dont’ be myopic : Russia is NOT an enemy of Europe….

  16. avatar
    Jan

    Ordinary,’ thinking’ Europeans, see the EU relationship clearly and it’s time that the EU leaders stop the game and either risk real confrontation or at least be honest about their lack of ability to follow through or backbone to do so. *Note to EU- Russia likely does not give a ____ about what you think, quit pretending that your hands are clean and that anything you do will be more than ‘window dressing.’ Work with them until something in the future changes the rules because we all know that the unexpected can happen quickly and inexplicably.

  17. avatar
    Alain Camu

    We should strive to work out a common strategy with Russia.

  18. avatar
    Marlena Morgan

    No. Not in order to advance American interests that are not ours. No reason for the EU to play the USA game versus Russia, partners we are, not vassals. the whole energy “autonomy” of the EU argument is blatantly false, no one of the proponents of cutting off ties with Russia has explained how come that Northern Stream 2 is subjugation to Russia, but imports of Russian gas through Ukraine is….just fine, as is also the new gas through Turkey to south Europe. How blind do they think we are?

  19. avatar
    jthk

    “Can we afford to cut ties with Russia?” This is an old perspective of the Cold War ideological confrontation. Ïsn’t democracy a cluster of ideologies promoting pluralism, freedom and libery i.e. catering different interests, different values and way of living.. .? Why a democratic EU wants to cut ties with Russia and give up conciliation?

  20. avatar
    jthk

    Affordability is not a question, the British has voted for Brexit and London’s financial center status has just been taken away by Amsterdam. It is better to consider whether it is good for Europe. It is very sure that EU would lose its sovereign and independent decision after cutting ties with Russia for EU is too weak to confront the US particularly with its military presence and control of EU military force. Look at the Philippines, President Duterte has cleverly balance among big powers, China, Russia and the US. The country and achieve peace and prosperity by not taking side.

  21. avatar
    jthk

    Russia is member of Europe. It is unrealistic to cut ties with. Unless the destination of Europe is for the American to become great again.

  22. avatar
    Panayiotis

    You have nothing to win but only to loose, peace, peace is precious

  23. avatar
    Крис

    Yeah, yeah we know. Russia is aggressor because it borders the NATO bases. Why don’t Russophobes just find a hobby or even better – a real job.

  24. avatar
    Vivian

    I don’t know about Russia but you’ve obviously decided you can’t afford to lose …. Turkey. Which is why you stomach the occupation and ethnic cleansing of a member state, threats of war against another member state and Taliban-like disrespect towards EU leaders and policies. Just pay Russia the respect it deserves and stop these vastly Russophobic overtures.

  25. avatar
    Manuel

    Ukraine and the EU are paying the price of the geostrategic games in the ex- Yugoslavia….

  26. avatar
    Gabor

    There is a term in Russian – “gopnik”, basically it means – thug, but could be also interpreted as a bully. Russia is a gopnik, and what that means is that it only understands the language of power. Now the trick is that a gopnik is not necessarily more powerful than who it is attacking, but if the subject of the attack does not fight back, the gopnik will most certainly use it to take what it wants to. Solution – do not be so polite and accepting, but slap the gopnik in its face. Of course you are risking a war here, because some gopniks are stupid and even if the risk loosing they will push ahead, but the more you allow a gopnik to think it is ok to do what it does, the further a gopnik will push the limits. If the western world wants to resolve this issue, it just hast to accept what is happening and do what it takes. Now the problem here is that there is already a huge chunk of the wester economy that relies on bloody Russian money channeled trough dirty high level officials and wester banks. Are you ready to rip that tumor out and face a possible collapse, or not? That is the real question here. I don’t think it will happen any time soon.

  27. avatar
    David

    Ukraine is not a member of EU. Due to EU defense policy based on NATO we are aligned on US that has no interest on good partnership Russia/EU.On the otherside Russia is rough and efficient player using force and all the meanings if necessary. As long as EU is fully aligned on US, it won’t be possible to improve our relation with Russia. Decoupling EU from US, not from NATO, by reinforcing european autonomy in matters of defense must be persued as a major priority in any case.

  28. avatar
    Craig

    Russia is gonna carve another chunk off Ukraine because it can. Germany still wants what Russia will give, so Ukraine is just gonna have to make do with a little less territory.

  29. avatar
    João

    For sure we can!! I don’t need and don’t want the Russian gaz!!!

  30. avatar
    Yvonne

    OMG..please think of the consequences of war..Peace please for all our children ..greetings from Ireland..PEACE ☘

  31. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    We cannot avoid strong ties with the biggest European country Russia

  32. avatar
    Николай

    Remember Russia doesn’t start the wars they only finish them

  33. avatar
    Boyko

    Well, Greta won’t be happy for heating on wood, the business won’t be happy for expensive US gas, but hey, principles are more important. EU has to stand up to Russia, if not with arms, they can always make a pride parade in Brussels.

  34. avatar
    Krijn

    Can Russia afford to cut ties with us?

  35. avatar
    jthk

    For the security of Europe, Europe need to use Russia and China to balance the power of an aggressive America is required.

  36. avatar
    jthk

    Cutting ties with Russia is irrational. By making the second military power an enemy would never serve any good for peace, security and prosperity of Europe. Even worse, it is equal to binding EU tighter with a war-monger state, the US and NATO. EU would be dragged in power competition of the US and precious resources have to be waste on arms race, which would sacrifice the security and prosperity of EU …

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