Dr Andrei Illarionov said the Kremlin ‘did not take seriously’ Europe’s threats to reduce energy usage while continuing to buy Russian oil and gas.
Oil and gas revenues last year made up 36 per cent of Russia’s government spending, meaning an embargo would seriously hamper Kremlin finances.
Dr Andrei Illarionov said the Kremlin ‘did not take seriously’ Europe’s threats to reduce energy usage while continuing to buy Russian oil and gas
The EU currently imports 40 per cent of its gas and 27 per cent of its oil from Russia.
Dr Illarionov told the BBC if the West ‘would try to implement a real embargo on oil and gas exports from Russia… I would bet that probably within a month or two, Russian military operations in Ukraine, probably will be ceased, will be stopped’.
He added: ‘It’s one of the very effective instruments still in the possession of the Western countries.’
The EU on Friday banned Russian coal imports among other products, but has yet to touch oil and gas imports from Russia.
Last week, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Europe is paying Putin a billion euros a day for his energy.
Dr Illarionov, who now lives in the US, said Putin could suffer the current financial hit unless further sanctions are imposed.
The invasion could be stopped if Europe imposed a proper embargo on Russian gas and oil, an expert claimed. Pictured: Mariupol
He said: ‘His territorial ambitions, his imperial ambitions, are much more important than anything else, including the livelihood of the Russian population and of the financial situation in the country… even the financial state of the his government.’
Experts say the Russian economy could shrink as much as 15 per cent with current sanctions, with an estimated 20million people living in poverty.
Dr Illarionov believes that number could triple now, while the Centre for Strategic Research says two million jobs could be lost this year.
The EU’s executive is drafting proposals for an EU oil embargo on Russia, the foreign ministers of Ireland, Lithuania and the Netherlands said today, although there is still no agreement to ban Russian crude.
‘They are now working on ensuring that oil is part of the next sanctions package,’ Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said of the European Commission as he arrived for a meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg.
‘The European Union is spending hundreds of millions of euros on importing oil from Russia, that is certainly contributing to financing this war. We need to cut off that financing … the sooner that can happen the better,’ Coveney added.
A woman cries as she tries to find a body of her son among debris of a residential building destroyed during Russia’s invasion in the town of Borodianka
His Dutch and Lithuanian counterparts also said they were open to looking at ways at targeting Russian oil, which makes up about a quarter of the EU’s crude imports, as a means to pressure Russia to halt the shelling of Ukrainian cities.
‘We are looking at all other (sanctions), including energy,’ Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said, a position echoed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who has said an EU oil embargo must happen ‘sooner or later’.
The European Parliament last week voted for an embargo, although its decision is not binding.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on April 5 that she was considering additional sanctions, including on oil imports, based in part on proposals from EU governments.
Those ideas include imposing tariffs on Russian oil, or a ban on some oil products, according to EU diplomats.
Any oil embargo rests on both the technical details of the scope and phase-in time of such a move and the support of the EU’s 27 member states.
Energy dependence varies widely across the bloc, with countries such as Bulgaria almost totally dependent on Russia oil. Hungary has said it cannot support an oil embargo.
Germany’s position, as the EU’s biggest economy, will be crucial. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, arriving in Luxembourg, called for a ‘coordinated plan to completely phase out fossil fuels’ from Russia, but EU diplomats have said Berlin is not actively supporting an immediate embargo.
The United States and Britain have banned Russian oil, hoping to cut off a significant source of revenue for Moscow.
The decision is harder for Europe’s economy due to its dependency and could push up already high energy prices.