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PM – West must end addiction to Russian energy and starve Putin of war funds

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B

oris Johnson has urged the West to end its “addiction” on Russian energy as he prepares to head to Saudi Arabia to push for increased oil and gas production.

The Prime Minister is on Tuesday set to travel to the kingdom for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon in the hope Saudi can raise its production of oil and gas to make up for a reduced reliance on Russia.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said Western leaders had made a “terrible mistake” by letting President Vladimir Putin “get away with” annexing Crimea in 2014 and subsequently becoming “more dependent” on Russian power sources.

He said the “addiction” on Russian fuel had “emboldened” Mr Putin to bomb civilians during his invasion of Ukraine, while at the same time profiting from soaring global oil and gas prices.

“We cannot go on like this. The world cannot be subject to this continuous blackmail,” said Mr Johnson, whose administration has already announced its plan to phase out importing Russian oil by the end of the year.

“As long as the West is economically dependent on Putin, he will do all he can to exploit that dependence.

“And that is why that dependence must – and will – now end.”

Stating that Russia produces “virtually nothing else” that the “rest of the world wants to buy”, Mr Johnson argued: “If the world can end its dependence on Russian oil and gas, we can starve him of cash, destroy his strategy and cut him down to size.”

Offering a glimpse of what could be in his British Energy Security Strategy, which is due to be published this month, he argued there was a need to press ahead with investment in renewables, including expanding the number of UK offshore wind farms and creating more solar power.

Boris Johnson said the West had made a ‘terrible mistake’ in failing to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 over the annexing of Crimea (AP/Press Association Images) / AP

Mr Johnson also said there needed to be a “series of big new bets” on nuclear power to make sure the UK’s energy supply was “no longer at the mercy of bullies like Putin”.

However, the Prime Minister looked to level with the public that diverging from Russian power would be “painful” and that financial assistance offered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help pay with rising bills this year cannot be afforded “for long”.

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