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EU will not include Russian gas in new sanction package: Czech PM

The European Union is preparing a new sanction package against Moscow, however, some member states will not be able to adjust quickly enough to sanction Russian gas. Although this would deal a severe blow to the Russian economy and halt their push towards Ukrainian soil, too many member states of the EU are reliant on Russian gas to function.

The Czech Republic, which took over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency on July 1, is one of those countries, dependent on Russia for almost all of its gas needs.

“The sanctions must have a greater impact on Russia than on the countries imposing the sanctions. There are countries in Europe, which can’t get rid of their dependency on Russian energies, even if they are intensively working on it,” said Czech Prime Minister Fiala, speaking from his office in Prague.

Fiala said the sanctions were expected to ban gold imports, widen a list of dual-use goods banned for export to Russia and target more individuals. Meanwhile, he has put CEZ – central Europe’s biggest listed utility – in which the state has a 70 percent stake, at the centre of his government’s energy strategy as the Czech Republic and other European states race to end reliance on Russian energy supplies.

Fiala also said that the government was debating the idea of windfall taxes, a proposal first presented by a coalition partner, on firms that have reaped profits from surging energy prices that were pushed higher by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the head of the Czech republic, a bump in taxes is not something the government wanted to pursue, but the extraordinary situation left them room to consider taxing unexpected gains from the war in Ukraine, and utilise it for solidarity with those getting unexpectedly into trouble.

The latest sanctions are being prepared amid mounting fears in Europe that Russia could extend scheduled maintenance of the key Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline that began on July 11 and is due to last 10 days, which would throttle European supplies further and disrupt plans by countries to fill storage for winter, tipping them into an energy crisis.

Fiala said Europe must be ready for the possibility that flows from Nord Stream 1 will not restart, seeking out alternative sources of gas supplies, like LNG, and be ready to share supplies among member states.

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