The European Commission has taken the unprecedented action of urging its member-states to reduce gas consumption.
The Commission has asked EU nations to cut gas consumption by 15% in anticipation that Russia could reduce its supply further, or cut off access altogether.
The move is aimed at building up the EU’s joint gas storage supply as winter approaches.
Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has accused the Kremlin of “blackmailing” the European Union, which is heavily reliant on fossil fuel energy from Russia.
“What we’ve seen in the past – as we know – Russia is calculatingly trying to put pressure on us by reducing the supply of gas,” said Ms von der Leyen.
“So it is a likely scenario that there’s a full cut-off of Russian gas, and that would hit the whole European Union.”
President von der Leyen also accused Russia of “using energy as a weapon”.
“Months before the war broke out, Russia kept gas supply intentionally as low as possible, despite the high gas prices,” said Ms von der Leyen.
“Overall, the flow of Russian gas is now less than one third to what it used to be – for example, at the same time last year.”
Von der Leyen highlighted the REpowerEU action plan, which is said to ensure that the European Union is not reliant on Russian fossil fuels.
The plan includes, sourcing energy from alternative international partners; reducing energy usage to save supplies; and massively accelerating the transition to renewable energy before its 2030 target.
Von der Leyen described renewable energy as “the energy of the future”.
The European Union has already set up a joint gas storage – which is currently at 64% capacity – and they have also set up a platform for joint energy purchase.
Poland has opposed the EU’s requests to cut consumption, having already filled its own country’s gas reserves to 98% capacity.
Meantime, EU ambassadors have agreed to a seventh package of sanctions targeting Russia, including banning gold imports.
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska, has also addressed both houses of US Congress, calling on lawmakers to provide more weapons.