Putin ally says Moscow could torpedo Dutch ports: 'Europe is not invincible'
A former Russian military leader has claimed Europe would "totally croak" if Moscow was to torpedo key oil ports in the Netherlands.
Andrey Gurulyov, a state Duma politician and former deputy commander of Russia's southern military district, said on a panel discussion on the Russia-1 channel that Europe's oil supply could be targeted as the war in Ukraine continues.
Such comments are normally part of the propaganda machine utilised by Moscow.
The global oil trade has been completely upended by the war in Ukraine. Western sanctions have hit Russia's economy hard and new measures announced by the G7 on Monday - including a proposal to cap the price of Russian oil - are aimed at further depriving the Kremlin of much-needed revenues.
Around 40% of the crude oil for Europe is imported and processed by the Netherlands, with Rotterdam importing 95 to 100 million tonnes of crude every year to be refined.
Oil tankers are the main source of transport for the resource, and are unloaded at terminals in the Europoort and on the Maasvlakte.
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In the panel discussion, first reported by Julia Davis who monitors Russian media, Gurulyov said Europe would be "nuts" to think it is "invincible", theorising exactly how Russia could target Europe.
"When I was looking at Europe's vulnerable spots or critically important objects, militarily speaking, I can tell you the following," he said.
"No less than 40% of crude oil is imported and processed by the Netherlands in its coastal areas.
"It's such a small spot that it would be hard to miss.
"When we say nuclear weapons might be used, maybe or maybe not, how will a missile fly across Europe?
"It will whistle by or it could be launched by a submarine from another side."
He added: "The main supply chain is via oil tanker, we don't even need a missile, a torpedo will do it especially if it's docked at port, it will burn along with all of the port's infrastructure.
"Europe will not only freeze, but totally croak."
State TV is a propaganda tool used in Russia and is closely monitored by the Kremlin. Rather than signalling likely Russian policy, it is often used as a means of controlling the narrative that presents Russia in the strongest possible way and its enemies - in this case Western powers - in the weakest light.
If Russia was to embark on such an unhinged course of action, it would likely spark a retaliatory strike from Nato countries - including the UK - under their obligations set out by Article 5.
Article 5 states that an attack on one Nato member is an attack on all Nato members.
In the same exchange, Gurulyov was dismissive of the mutual assistance pact, stating: "Those who are waving their Article 5 in the air should roll it up and shove it you know where."
Since Russia invaded, Western nations have been trying to reduce or eliminate their reliance on Russia fuel sources.
The UK said it will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of 2022. The EU has pledged that, by the end of the year, around 93% of Russian oil sales will have been eliminated.
The United States, Canada and Australia have imposed outright bans on importing Russian fuel sources.
But despite the scramble for alternative products, Russia earned €93 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the invasion.
Why is crude oil so important?
Globally, crude oil is one of the most important fuel sources and has contributed to a third of the planet's energy consumption.
It is a difficult resource to extract, with the extraction, refining and shipping needed a vast infrastructure system in place.
The source must be refined before being usable. Once refined, it is categorised as a petroleum product.
Where does Europe get its crude oil?
Europe imports huge amounts of crude oil and, in 2021, the EU imported 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) - 71% of all energy imports into the EU.
Russia has been a key component of Europe's energy supply and, prior to the invasion, supplied the continent with 40% of its natural gas and 25% of its oil.
According to Eurostat, Norway (9.4%) was the next largest producer and the United States the third (8.8%).
During a meeting of the G7 this week, countries are expected to discuss a revival of the Iran nuclear deal, which might lead to more Iranian oil exports.
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