BRUSSELS: The European Union proposed a price cap on Russian gas on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin threatened to halt all energy supplies if they took such a step, raising the risk of rationing in some of the world’s richest countries this winter.
The escalating standoff threatens to drive up sky-high European gas prices further, adding to already eye-watering bills EU governments are paying to stop their energy providers collapsing and prevent cash-strapped customers freezing in the cold months ahead.
Europe has accused Russia of weaponising energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia blames those sanctions for causing the gas supply problems, which it puts down to pipeline faults.
As tensions rose, Putin said that contracts could be ripped up in the event of price caps and warned the West it risked being frozen like a wolf’s tail in a famous Russian fairy tale.
The EU, however, plans to press ahead with a price cap on Russian gas and also a ceiling on the price paid for electricity from generators that do not run on gas.
“We will propose a price cap on Russian gas… We must cut Russia’s revenues which Putin uses to finance this atrocious war in Ukraine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.
Putin anticipated the move and said Russia would hit back.
“We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” Putin said at an economic forum in Vladivostok.
“We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil — we will not supply anything,” Putin said.