Austria’s Finance Minister said on Tuesday he rejects an immediate embargo on Russian energy, despite the atrocities in Bucha carried out in the war against Ukraine.
Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) made the statement before a meeting of the Eurogroup in Luxembourg on Monday.
Brunner said Austria, like Germany, is heavily dependent on Russian gas. While the medium-term goal is to become more independent it would be “unrealistic” to make the switch overnight.
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) has also spoken out in the Ö1-Mittagsjournal against an embargo on Russian gas, saying sanctions would hit the wrong people.
Other sanctions are expected.
How effective would an embargo be?
While sanctions are already biting into the Russian economy, they are expected to only result in an overall decrease of around ten percent.
Stopping imports of Russian oil and gas – for instance on a widespread basis like a EU-wide ban – would result in far more significant damage to the Russian economy, placing greater pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Austria is heavily dependent on Russia to fulfil its energy demands, like many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Elisabeth Christen, Senior Economist at the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Wifo) told The Local that 80 percent of Austria’s gas is imported from Russia and that most of the EU is heavily dependent on Russian gas.