Boris urges West to end 'addiction' to Russian energy ahead of trip to Saudi Arabia

15 March 2022, 06:20

Boris Johnson has said the West must stop relying on Russia for energy.
Boris Johnson has said the West must stop relying on Russia for energy. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson has urged the West to end its "addiction" to Russian energy ahead of his trip to Saudi Arabia, where he will push for increased oil and gas production.

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The Prime Minister also admitted that a "terrible mistake" had been made when Mr Putin was allowed to "get away with" annexing Crimea in 2014, with Western leaders becoming "more dependent" on Russian power sources.

Mr Johnson said the "addiction" on their 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.

He added that there needed to be a "series of big new bets" on alternatives such as nuclear power to make sure the UK's energy supply was "no longer at the mercy of bullies like Putin".

However, the PM also levelled with readers, saying 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 could not be afforded "for long".

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Mr Johnson said in the Telegraph: "We cannot go on like this. The world cannot be subject to this continuous blackmail.

"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."

It comes as he is set to visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, after announcing that the UK would be cutting off Russian oil imports last week.

Mr Johnson will hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the hope that Saudi Arabia can raise its production of oil and gas to make up for the reduced reliance on Russia.

He is jetting to Riyadh in a bid to secure the route to diverging from Moscow energy supplies - but has faced calls to scrap the trip altogether over human rights concerns, particularly over recent reports of a mass execution of Saudi prisoners.

Before his evening flight, he is due to host leaders from the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), an alliance of northern European nations.

He will meet with representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.

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