Von der Leyen: EU must end energy dependency on Russia

Madrid, Mar 6 (EFE).- European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen said Saturday evening that the European Union should end its dependency on Russian energy sources and try to diversify in order to tackle the economic repercussions of “Putin’s war.”

Von der Leyen was speaking to the media after meeting Spanish President Pedro Sanchez in the Moncloa presidential palace in Madrid, and congratulated the Spanish leader for his country’s extensive experience in the area of renewable energies, something which she called key to ensure energy efficiency.

“The European Union must get rid of the dependency from Russian oil, gas and coal. For that, we have to diversify the supply, we have to get better at energy efficiency, and we have to massively invest in renewables,” the EC president said in a joint press conference.

“With your impressive share of renewables (…) Spain can and will play an important role in supplying Europe. For that, we must work, indeed, on the interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the European Union,” she added.

Von der Leyen thanked Madrid for backing EU decisions and called it a key partner during this “defining” moment in history due to the ongoing war, with the European body approving humanitarian aid worth 500 million euros (around $546 million) to the embattled Ukraine.

Sanchez reiterated Spain’s support to the EU-imposed sanctions on Moscow, and expressed solidarity towards Kyiv both through sending humanitarian assistance and accepting refugees.

Sanchez said that Russian president Vladimir Putin had committed “two blunders”: thinking that Ukraine would yield and that Europe would be divided.

“Europe is more united than ever in its actions against Putin and in solidarity with Ukraine, a people who have demonstrated great determination in defending their freedom,” the Spanish president said.

On Friday, Spain sent two planes carrying “offensive” military equipment to Ukraine, with two more flights setting off on Saturday, the minister of presidency Felix Bolanos said in the press conference.

Meanwhile the exodus of major European companies from Russia continued on Saturday, with Spanish clothing firm Inditex — which owns brands such as Zara, Bershka and Pull&Bear — and Tendam (flagship brand Cortefiel) joining the list of multinationals which have suspended their activity in the Russian Federation.

Spanish media outlets such as Agencia EFE, RTVE and CCMA (Catalan Media Corporation) have also decided to suspend their activities in Russia after Moscow approved a new law carrying prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading what authorities deem to be “fake news.”

Protests were being held over the weekend across Spanish cities demanding an end to the Ukraine war.

In Madrid’s Fuenlabrada area, more than 1,000 people gathered for a peaceful protest condemning Russia’s military aggression. Similarly in Toledo, around 2,000 residents came out on the streets in a demonstration and collected warm clothing, medicines and non-perishable food to be sent as aid to Ukraine.

In Zamora, more than 100 Ukrainians demonstrated demanding Spain’s help, apart from another anti-war protest held in Torrelavega, in the Cantabria region. EFE


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