EU Targets Russian LNG in 14th Sanctions Package: Implications for Energy Independence

by Roman Cheplyk
Thursday, May 23, 2024
EU Targets Russian LNG in 14th Sanctions Package: Implications for Energy Independence

The European Union is actively discussing the 14th package of sanctions against Russia, with a focus for the first time on imposing restrictions on Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG)

This move signifies a critical step towards reducing the EU's energy dependence on Russia, which has persisted even as other forms of energy ties have been severed.

Current State of EU's LNG Dependency

Despite significant efforts over the past two years to diminish reliance on Russian energy, the EU has seen an increase in LNG imports from Russia. In 2024 alone, Russia supplied 4.89 million tons of LNG to Europe, accounting for over 16% of its total LNG imports, up from 12.74% the previous year. Key importers include Belgium, Spain, and France, which have significantly contributed to Russia's export revenues, inadvertently financing the war against Ukraine.

Proposed Sanctions and Their Challenges

The new sanctions package under consideration includes a partial ban on the transshipment of Russian LNG through European ports. If implemented, this would mark a significant shift in the EU's energy policy. However, for the package to be adopted, unanimous support from all 27 EU member states is required—a challenging feat given the varying degrees of dependency on Russian LNG among these countries.

Belgium, for instance, relies heavily on Russian LNG, with 49% of its LNG imports in 2024 coming from Russia. Spain and France also face similar dependencies, complicating their positions in the sanctions negotiations.

Steps Towards Energy Independence

Several EU countries have expressed their support for reducing or completely eliminating Russian LNG imports. Notable among them are Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Portugal, and Italy. These countries have made substantial progress in enhancing their energy security and diversifying their energy sources.

Portugal's Environment and Energy Minister, Maria da Graça Carvalho, and Italy's Energy Minister, Gilberto Picetto Fratin, have both voiced strong support for stricter sanctions on Russian energy imports. Italy, in particular, claims it can now manage without Russian gas entirely.

Economic and Political Implications

For the sanctions to be effective, countries like Belgium, Spain, and France must resolve the tension between economic benefits and geopolitical solidarity. Belgian companies, for instance, have long-term contracts with Russian energy firms, which complicates their ability to unilaterally terminate these agreements without legal repercussions.

Public and Political Pressure

Public demonstrations, such as the March Against Russian Gas in Belgium, have highlighted the need for greater alignment between public sentiment and governmental policies. During a meeting with march participants, Belgian Energy Minister Tinne van der Straeten acknowledged the issue and expressed willingness to seek solutions with EU partners.

Long-term Strategy and Immediate Actions

The EU has recently adopted a gas package that allows member states to impose national bans on Russian LNG imports, providing a regulatory framework to support tougher measures. This framework is crucial for enabling countries to act decisively against Russian LNG imports.

From January to April 2024, the EU increased Russian LNG imports by 18% compared to the same period in 2023, underscoring the urgency of implementing effective sanctions. The anticipated adoption of the 14th sanctions package in June 2024 aims to curb this trend.


The EU's ongoing discussions about sanctioning Russian LNG are a critical component of its broader strategy to achieve energy independence and support Ukraine. The proposed sanctions package, if adopted, would significantly reduce the EU's reliance on Russian energy and cut a vital revenue stream for Russia. This move requires a collective and concerted effort by all member states to balance economic interests with the geopolitical necessity of supporting Ukraine and upholding European security.

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