Russian sanctions 'may never be lifted' admits TV panelist

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The leader of Italy’s far-Right League party, Matteo Salvini, has urged the bloc to lift its energy sanctions imposed on Moscow. He claims that EU sanctions are to blame for the staggering bill rises that are crippling nations across the bloc, particularly Italy, which has a large dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

In fact, the entire bloc does, getting 40 percent of its gas from Russia last year, while putting £43billion pounds in Putin’s pocket for oil imports.

To deal an economic blow to Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine, the EU slapped a ban on coal imports and has pledged to phase out oil within six months.

While no gas ban has been included in a sanctions package so far, Mr Salvini claims the existing measures need to be put in place to relieve Italian taxpayers.

Mr Salvini told RTL radio: “Several months have passed and people are paying two, three, even four times more for their bills.

“And after seven months, the war continues and Russian Federation coffers are filling with money.”

It came after the Italian politician tweeted that “those who have been sanctioned are winners and those who put the sanctions in place are on their knees”.

Instead, Mr Salvini said there needs to be a “European shield to protect businesses and families, as during the Covid pandemic.”

He added: “If we want to go ahead with the sanctions, let’s do it, we want to protect Ukraine – but I would not want that to mean that instead of harming the sanctioned, we harm ourselves.”

This also comes as Russia halted exports travelling to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which sends gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea, indefinitely on Friday.

It came after the pipeline had come offline on Wednesday for three days of scheduled maintenance.

But Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled energy giant, said the flows would restart on Saturday as planned due to an oil leak at the Portovaya compressor station.

The move sparked a 31 percent increase to EU gas prices on Monday morning, hitting €281 (£242) per megawatt hour.

This also came after flows had already plummeted to just 20 percent of its usual capacity, with Moscow blaming this on a delay to infrastructure repairs triggered by western sanctions.

However, Putin has been gradually decreasing Europe’s gas both since before invading Ukraine and during the conflict.

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European governments claim Putin is blackmailing Europe and using gas as a weapon to send bills soaring, rather than the bloc’s sanctions being the cause behind the skyrocketing energy bills.

And instead of cancelling the sanctions like Mr Salvini has suggested, the EU appears to have other ideas.

This week, the EU announced plans for emergency measures such as a gas price cap and a levy on profits.

In a document seen by Politico, the plans came as a direct response to the “full and indefinite interruption” of Nord Stream 1, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its earlier supply cuts.

All of which, the document reads, are “feeding rising inflation, and have severe impacts on all businesses and consumers”.

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