Fossil Fuels Continue Funding Putin’s War Against Our Country: We Need Additional Sanctions Against Russia
By Dr. Svitlana Romanko and Kostiantyn Krynytskyi
As Ukrainians, we are painfully aware that June 3 marked 100 days since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of our country. Although the war started in 2014, with the forceful annexation of Crimea and military aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, February 24, commenced a new bloody chapter engulfing our whole country. Russian aggression has to be stopped and Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be restored. To achieve peace and energy security, we’re calling on the United States to impose secondary sanctions on all buyers of Russian fossil fuels and accelerate a clean energy transition globally.
The humanitarian consequences of Putin’s war machine are already unfathomable. More than 14.5 million Ukrainians have fled their homes and thousands of civilians have been killed. The Russian attacks completely destroyed cities like Mariupol in the South, Bucha in the North, and Popasna in the East of the country. Atrocities uncovered in territories that were under Russian occupation have all the characteristics of a genocide of Ukrainian people.
After three months of full-scale war, the infrastructure damages in Ukraine are equally enormous. Russia has shelled more than 1,000 schools and 226 healthcare facilities. Russian troops have destroyed 6,300 km of railroads and damaged 23,573 km of roads, 289 road bridges, and 41 railway bridges. Ukraine’s real gross domestic product is expected to drop by 30–50% this year and the cost of rebuilding our country after the war is estimated at $1 trillion.
Russia has financed these atrocities from the revenue the country gets from exporting fossil fuels to the rest of the world. Oil and gas provide around 40% of the Russian federal budget revenue and make up approximately half of Russian exports. According to reports, Russia will earn nearly $321 billion from fossil fuel exports this year, an increase of more than a third from 2021. In short, Russia’s ongoing ability to sell fossil fuels abroad is enabling the invasion and devastation of our country and contributing to the financing of war crimes.
And yet, according to recent reports, 20 European importers of gas from Russia have already opened accounts in Gazprombank, agreeing to the new terms of payment demanded by the Kremlin. Countries like Germany and Italy told companies they can pay for Russian fossil fuels in rubles without breaching sanctions.
The oil and gas industry, which has profited from this climate wrecking collaboration with Russia for decades, is exploiting the crisis to push for the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and new oil and gas extraction around the globe. This will bring the world to the brink of climate collapse. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made it clear that any new investment in fossil fuels is moral and economic madness. Recently, Guterres went one step further and called for private and public financial institutions to triple investments in renewables to $4 trillion a year. To safeguard peace and energy security, all governments need to drive massive demand reduction in Russian fossil fuels and immediately scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency.
For all of these reasons, we implore the United States to impose secondary sanctions on all buyers of Russian fossil fuels, including buyers outside the sanctions coalition countries, shipping companies, and refineries. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently explained that officials discussed secondary sanctions and other ways to limit Russia’s oil and gas revenues during a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Seven countries. Similarly, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Biden administration has not ruled out the possibility of placing sanctions on countries that purchase Russian oil and gas amid the war in Ukraine.
We call on President Biden to show decisive leadership and impose secondary sanctions against those buying Russian fossil fuels. Russia must be stopped as soon as possible and governments and companies around the world must take stronger action against this aggression. As long as we rely on fossil fuels, we remain vulnerable to the associated economic, energy security, and climate risks.
We need the global community to take immediate action to advance the clean energy transition and rapidly accelerate investments in the development of energy efficiency and energy savings measures. U.S. secondary sanctions, coupled with a transition to clean energy, will help Ukraine by cutting money flows to Putin’s regime, while building climate resiliency and energy affordability for Americans and people across Europe.
We need to ensure Ukraine’s victory as soon as possible. Swift and decisive energy sanctions are a big part of approaching this victory. We do not want these 100 days of war to become the first of many more.
President Biden, we need your help. We need to end the global fossil fuel addiction that feeds Putin’s war machine.
Dr. Svitlana Romanko, Stand with Ukraine Campaign Coordinator
Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, Head of the Energy Department at the Centre of Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction