Follow live the latest news on the war in Ukraine
The French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has estimated that the total cut-off of Russian gas to Europe is “the most likely option”, in comments made this Sunday where he echoed virtually identical assessments made the day before by the country’s Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne.
“I believe that the total interruption of gas supplies from Russia is a real possibility and we must prepare for this option,” Le Maire let it be known during the forum of economic meetings in Aix-en-Provence.
“The best way to prepare for these cuts is to be very attentive to our energy consumption. That goes for administrations, that goes for companies, that goes for individuals,” he added in statements reported by ‘Le Monde’.
These comments come less than 24 hours before the closure, this coming Monday, of the most important Russian natural gas connection to Germany, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, for annual maintenance work scheduled for ten days.
Germany fears that this shutdown is a pretext that will lead to the indefinite suspension of the pipeline’s operations, as warned last week by Economy Minister Robert Habeck, in retaliation by Moscow for the sanctions received for the invasion of Ukraine.
It should be recalled that Russia’s state-owned Gazprom already significantly reduced the volume of supply through the more than 1,200-kilometer-long pipeline from Russia to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in June.
According to the German Federal Network Agency, the pipeline is currently only used at 40 percent of its capacity.
France, like many other European countries, remains heavily dependent on Russia for its natural gas and oil supplies, albeit to a lesser extent than some of its neighbors. In 2020, the country imported 17 percent of its gas and 13 percent of its oil and oil derivatives from Russia, according to the European Commission.