Together we can blunt Russia’s energy weapon – POLITICO

Oleksiy Chernyshov was appointed CEO of Naftogaz by the Ukrainian government on November 4, 2022.

In recent weeks, Russia has carried out its heaviest bombardment of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Meanwhile, investigators found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipeline, confirming the use of sabotage to restrict gas flows to Europe. Russia is now also threatening to further cut Moldova’s gas supply in a bid to destabilize the pro-European government in Chișinău.

As the Russian invasion force struggles to maintain its position against the Ukrainian army, the Kremlin has made energy its main weapon. By depriving Ukrainians of heat and electricity, Russia is trying to break the fighting spirit of our people and persuade European governments to stop supporting us using energy blackmail.

The determined resistance of Ukraine and its Western partners led to the failure of Russia’s military strategy – an outcome that few experts could foresee at the start of the full-scale invasion. We must now work together to thwart Russia’s brutal use of energy and allow the Ukrainian military to continue its advance and restore the country’s territorial integrity. But to do this, we must act quickly, as recent Russian missile strikes have crippled almost half of Ukraine’s energy system.

On November 15, a massive attack targeted gas production facilities in eastern Ukraine, destroying some and damaging others. Since the start of the war, domestic gas production has constituted the bulk of Ukraine’s gas balance sheet. We had enough gas in storage to meet the basic needs of our population this winter, but damage to our generation facilities and other parts of the heating system creates the risk that millions of Ukrainian households will suffer from shortages gas or have their heating and electricity cut off when they stop.

It is essential that Ukraine continue to produce gas to achieve a minimum level of energy security.

We are grateful for the equipment already provided by some of our Western partners to help us deal with the damage caused by the Russian attacks. These have included generators to provide electricity for gas processing.

However, after the attacks on our gas fields, we urgently need replacement gas treatment compressors and separators. We also need specialized equipment to carry out drilling operations in the absence of foreign service companies that have left Ukraine since the beginning of the war. And in some places we lack vehicles, which we donated to the Ukrainian army.

Recently announced loans and grants from our international partners – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Government of Norway – will provide the first part of much-needed liquidity support and trade finance that will ensure heating for households, schools and offices, and generate electricity to run the economy.

The war has shown that we cannot rely on undemocratic countries to meet our energy needs without putting us at risk.

We are also developing strategic projects, including fuel switching in heat and power generation, energy efficiency measures, biogas development, as well as measures to increase gas production. The successful implementation of these projects will strengthen Ukraine’s energy resilience and eliminate the need to import gas. This will give Ukraine the opportunity to export competitively produced gas to the European market.

To achieve these goals, we must increase the commercial performance of Naftogaz and restore the confidence of our partners.

On my first day as CEO, I asked the firm to initiate the selection process for a new Supervisory Board. The appointment of a qualified Board of Directors will strengthen Naftogaz’s corporate governance and improve our decision-making. However, Naftogaz will only be able to implement this strategy if Russia is forced to retreat and accept that it cannot extinguish Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

In recent months, we have succeeded against all odds in repelling the invasion of Russia and in demonstrating with the lives of our citizens that Ukraine is a European country, which cannot be forced into being part of the so-called “world” of Russia.

Of course, this could not have happened without the support of our Western partners, who quickly understood that Russia did not only want to subjugate Ukraine, but also saw an opportunity to disrupt Euro-Atlantic security systems. and peaceful. We were particularly encouraged by the G7’s decision to introduce a price cap on Russian oil exports, which came into effect on 5 December.

It is vitally important that the Russian war machine no longer be financed by Western purchases of Russia’s energy exports.

As Russia escalates attacks on our energy sector, Ukraine and its Western partners must come together and build the resilience achieved in the military sector.

Together we can blunt Russia’s energy weapon and force it out of Ukraine in peace.


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