Belgium, the country that hosts NATO’s headquarters, is among the top three importers of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) this year through July, according to a new report by Global Witness.
Belgium has been the world’s third-largest importer of Russian LNG from January to July 2023, trailing only Spain and China, according to a report published Wednesday by Global Witness. Brussels, the Belgian capital, is the site of NATO’s headquarters, and the mutual defense organization has expended immense resources to contest Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Belgium imported 17% of the total Russian LNG sold to other countries through July, according to Global Witness. Russia has used its role as a key energy supplier to Western Europe to its advantage since its forces rolled across the Ukrainian border in February 2022, as it did in July 2022 when it temporarily reduced its LNG flows to Germany, a move which sent energy prices soaring in Germany. (RELATED: Germany Mocked Trump. Four Years Later, He’s Proven Right)
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The European Union (EU) as a whole imported more than 50% of the total LNG that Russia sold to foreign countries between January and July, according to the Global Witness report. EU countries are now buying much more Russian LNG than they were prior to Russia invading its neighbor in 2022, spending an estimated 5.3 billion euros to import the fuel so far this year.
Overall, EU countries bought 22 million cubic meters of Russian LNG from January to July 2023, a 40% increase from the 15 million cubic meters EU countries purchased through the same period in 2021, according to the Global Witness report. The jump in the EU’s purchases of Russian LNG far outpaced the global average increase in Russian LNG imports, which stands at 6% over the same period of time in 2023.
NATO, EU member states and other allies of the West have so far committed at least $30 billion to assist Ukrainian forces against the Russian invaders, according to an August report by the Congressional Research Service. Because Russia uses its LNG revenues to fund its war effort, several NATO states like Belgium are effectively funding both sides of the war.
“The numbers mentioned in the report of Global Witness take into account all gas imports that are re-exported via the Belgian gas infrastructure to neighboring countries,” a spokesperson for Belgium’s Federal Public Service Economy told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In fact, Russian gas for own national Belgian consumptions accounts for only 2.8 % of total gas consumption.”
EU Energy Commissioner Kari Simson requested in March that EU countries and major European companies stop purchasing LNG from Russia, according to Reuters. The EU has long promoted green energy policies and technologies to drive a shift away from fossil fuels for its member states.
A NATO official referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to a communique from the July NATO Summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania, which stated that “the energy crisis intentionally exacerbated by Russia has underlined the importance of a stable and reliable energy supply and the diversification of routes, suppliers, and sources,” adding that the alliance “will continue to develop NATO’s capacity to support national authorities in protecting critical energy infrastructure… as we adapt our alliance to the ongoing energy transition, we will ensure military capability, effectiveness and interoperability.”
This article has been updated with comment from NATO and the Belgian FPS Economy.
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