Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has signed an agreement to bolster energy ties with Algeria, in an effort to decrease the country’s energy dependence on Russia. This is a major blow to Putin, as Rome imported 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia in the past year, amounting to some 29 billion cubic metres (bcm).
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two months ago, many European countries have realised the urgent need to decrease their reliance on Moscow’s energy exports, both to safeguard their energy security, and as a way to strike at the heart of Russia’s economy.
The Italian Prime Minister noted that trade would increase between the two country’s dominant energy players, Eni and Sonatrach, which will transport an additional 9 bcm of gas to Italy by next year.
According to Italy’s economic development ministry, Rome imported 22.5 bcm from Algeria in the past year.
This means that if the new deal is upheld, Algeria will overtake Russia and become Italy’s largest provider of natural gas.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said ahead of the meeting: “Unfortunately we are late, we should have diversified much earlier but we have plenty of partners and friends around the world.”
Even as Rome rolls out its plans to end reliance on Russia, Mr Draghi has demanded that the EU use its power to cripple Putin’s invasion by setting a price cap on Russian gas.
The EU and Russia are somewhat dependent on each other when it comes to natural gas.
While the bloc gets 45 percent of its gas imports from Russia, it is also Moscow’s largest customer, with the EU paying Putin £535 million a day for energy imports.
He also said that imposing a gas price would reduce the funding that the EU gives to Russia every day, which could Putin’s war efforts drying out
He added: “We no longer want to depend on Russian gas, because economic dependence must not become political subjugation.
“To do this, we need to diversify energy sources and find new suppliers.”
Italy, like Germany, imports 40 percent of its gas from Russia, which means that Rome rapidly moves away from Putin, the pressure will be on Germany to explain why it is still dependent on Russian natural gas.