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UKRAINE

Russia’s attack on Ukraine will ‘deeply destabilise food supplies in Europe’

Russia's attack on Ukraine will "deeply destabilise" food supplies in Europe and Africa as some of the world's most fertile agricultural land goes unplanted, French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Friday.

Russia's attack on Ukraine will 'deeply destabilise food supplies in Europe'
Russia’s attack on Ukraine will ‘deeply destabilise food supplies in Europe’ AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP

“Europe and also Africa will be very deeply destabilised as regards food because of what can’t be planted right now in Ukraine,” Macron told reporters after an EU leaders’ meeting at Versailles Palace outside Paris.

“We will have to prepare for that and re-evaluate our production strategies to defend our food sovereignty… but also to be able to define a strategy concerning Africa,” he added.

Without it, he warned, “several African countries will be affected by famines within 12 to 18 months precisely because of the war.”

The French leader added that still more economic punishment would be piled on Russia if it continues its invasion of its neighbour.

“If things continue in the military way… we will take further sanctions, including massive sanctions,” he said, trailing a G7 statement on potential further measures “in a few hours”.

“All options are on the table,” he added, after EU nations have held off in the first weeks of the conflict from cutting off crucial oil and gas imports from major supplier Russia.

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UKRAINE

REVEALED: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

Amid fears about what would happen if gas supplies to Austria were disrupted, the Federal Government has put together a package of measures to create a strategic gas reserve.

REVEALED: What is Austria's emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

It has been well reported that Austria is heavily reliant on Russian natural gas – but what would happen if supplies were suspended or stopped altogether?

Austria sources 80 percent of its gas from Russia, so the country would be seriously impacted if supplies were disrupted due to the war in Ukraine, a breakdown of diplomatic relations or any other unforeseen event. 

This is why the Federal Government has now unveiled a package of measures to protect Austria’s gas reserves in the event of an energy emergency.

READ MORE: ‘An unprecedented situation’: How would a gas embargo impact Austria?

What is in the package?

Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler and Finance Minister Magnus Brunner presented the plans following a meeting in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, May 18th.

The most important points include an increase of the strategic gas reserve by 7.4 terawatt hours (TWh) to 20 TWh. This would cover Austria’s gas consumption for two winter months but the additional gas would not be sourced from Russia, according to the Kronen Zeitung

Gewessler said: “This measure will significantly reduce dependence on Russian gas.”

Increasing the strategic reserve with non-Russian supplies will reduce Austria’s dependence on Russian gas to 70 percent, Gewessler added.

Additionally, gas storage facilities located in Austria – such as the Haidach facility in Salzburg – must be connected to the Austrian gas grid. Haidach, which is supplied by Gasprom, is currently only connected to Germany’s pipeline network and has not been refilled for some time.

Finally, any unused gas in company storage facilities should be surrendered to the government if needed. Companies will be financially compensated for this.

READ ALSO: Austrian Economy Minister says gas embargo would be ‘red line’

What about next winter?

Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer has already said that gas storage facilities in Austria have to be 80 percent full before the next autumn and winter season.

The storage level is currently at 26 percent, reports Der Standard.

Gewessler also appealed to the Austrian public to make changes to help reduce the dependence on gas for energy, calling for more gas boilers to be replaced with other heating systems.

She said: “Together we are strong and together we can achieve this feat.”

READ MORE: What would an embargo on Russian oil mean for Austria?

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