ussian attacks on Ukraine would stop “within a month or two” if the Western allies stopped buying its oil and gas, according to a former economic adviser to President Putin.
Dr Andrei Illarionov said Russia “did not take seriously” the threat from the NATO allies to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas.
It comes after it emerged the EU spent 35 billion euros on Russian hydrocarbons since the start of the invasion while sending just one billion euros in aid to Ukraine though the German government has said it will stop importing oil and coal from Russia this year and gas by mid-2024.
Rising fuel prices mean revenues from oil and gas account for around a third of government spending in Russia and the EU imports about 40% of its gas and 27% of its oil from Russia with its top diplomat Josep Borrell saying they pay Russia one billion euros a day for energy.
Dr Illarionov told the BBC’s Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst if the allies could “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”.
“It’s one of the very effective instruments still in the possession of the Western countries,” he said.
Dr Illarionov, who served as Vladimir Putin’s chief economic adviser from 2000 t0 2005, said an energy embargo would be “very effective” but warned the Russian leader was prepared to see the economy suffer as a price for his “imperial ambitions”.
He was speaking as President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as more defence and financial support for his country.
In a video address late on Saturday, he renewed his appeal for a total ban on Russian energy and more weapons for Ukraine.
The EU on Friday banned Russian coal imports among other products, but has yet to touch oil and gas imports.