Macron said that supply disruption would be felt by the Europeans next winter, but Moscow claims that this forecast is too optimistic.
France's president Emmanuel Macron warned that Europe would not be able to survive without Russian gas next winter. The former Russian head of state Dmitry Medvedev is even more categorical: in his view, Europe would be unable to get through a week without Russian gas.
The EU is discussing a new sixth package of sanctions against Moscow, which could include restrictions on oil and gas imports from Russia, due to Russia's ongoing offensive in Ukraine. Russian retaliatory measures could affect energy supplies to Europe.
Macron issued a warning about a potential drop in gas supplies, as he is facing the second round of the French presidential election on Sunday.
He said in an interview with Ouest France that we are not going to see the consequences of this in the spring and summer of 2022, we have replenished the stocks but next winter everything will change if there is no more Russian gas.
The French leader, who polls say is likely to be re-elected, made clear that a full embargo on Russian gas is not being discussed, as the EU fully understands what enormous difficulties it will create. This may be a topic that will come up on the discussion table, but it is not there today. Gas is not, and coal and oil are there, he said.
On Friday, Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, took to Telegram to comment on the European Commission statement that there might be ways to pay for Russian gas in rubles without any sanctions.
We appreciate the consistency and integrity of our European partners. According to the recent IMF data, Europe will be able to do without gas for no more than 6 months. He wrote that they won't last a week because of the fact that they won't even last a week.
Alfred Kammer, director of the European Department at the International Monetary Fund, said if Russian gas supplies are shut off Europe could manage for six months thanks to alternative supplies and using existing storage. He said that if the gas shut off were to last for a longer period and would have significant effects, he said on Friday.
On Thursday, EU top diplomat Josep Borrel revealed that Brussels had failed to reach consensus on a full ban on Russian oil and gas imports, but expressed confidence that an agreement would be reached in the near future.
In early April, the EU announced that its members had agreed on an embargo of Russian coal estimated to be worth €4 billion per year, which would take effect in August.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to take the two republics by force.
The Russian economy was covered by tough-hitting sanctions that were applied to various sectors of the Russian economy after the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Moscow considers these measures unfriendly actions and has responded with its own counter-sanctions.