Photo of a flame of a burning hob at a gas cooker in Germany Photo of a flame of a burning hob at a gas cooker in Germany  (AFP or licensors)

EU Warns of Gas Shortages as Russia Expands Attacks in Ukraine

The European Union’s executive European Commission has urged countries across the bloc to cut their natural gas use as fighting raged in Ukraine, where Russia planned to capture more territory.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Russia confirmed that it is broadening its military aims beyond the east of Ukraine, setting its sights on other regions. 

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the delivery of weapons from the West to Ukraine prompted the shift in focus from Donetsk and Luhansk to southern regions, some of which are already under the control of Russian forces.

Lavrov warned the Kremlin’s objectives could expand further if the west continued to supply Ukraine with weapons.

In response, the United States said it would not allow Russia to annex more territories in Ukraine. 

John Kirby, the White House's chief National Security Council spokesman, told reporters that the West would continue to support. "Annexation by force will be a gross violation of the U.N. Charter, and we will not allow it to go unchallenged or unpunished," Kirby said. 

Security Assistance

“We will continue to provide Ukraine with historic levels of security assistance. Later this week, the administration will announce the next Presidential Drawdown package of weapons and equipment for Ukraine,” he added.

“It’ll be the 16th such drawdown to support Ukraine since the President took office,” Kirby noted. His comments came as Russian forces shelled eastern and southern Ukraine on Wednesday, despite a rising death toll on both sides. 

Washington said it saw signs Moscow was preparing to formally annex territory it had seized during nearly five months of the war.

As tensions rose, uncertainty remained over the planned restart on Thursday of a vast Russian natural gas pipeline to Europe. 

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that its capacity could be further reduced due to “slow progress” in equipment maintenance.

The European Union’s executive urged countries to reduce natural gas usage by 15 percent. The European Commission said the target is voluntary but will become legally binding for the EU member states if Moscow turns off the taps this summer. 

20 July 2022, 16:55