The three European countries who rely on Russia for all their gas

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BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 27: A man with a sign saying
Europe's reliance on Russia's gas has made it harder to sanction Moscow. (Getty)

The war in Ukraine has shone an unwelcome spotlight on Europe's reliance on Russian gas, which has so far been avoided in all of the sanctions placed on Putin's regime.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a 10 point plan on Thursday detailing how Europe could reduce its reliance on Russian gas, but it is raising headaches for many leaders who are already concerned about spiralling energy bills.

Although the UK imports relatively little gas from Russia, some countries like Germany and Italy are heavily reliant on it, which initially lessened their resolve to implement harsh sanctions on Moscow, although they did sign up to all of the measures within a few days.

Beyond Germany and Italy, three nations in Europe rely entirely on Russia for all of their gas.

What are the three European nations that rely on Russia for their gas?

Moldova, North Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina all get their gas entirely from Russia.

All three nations are in eastern Europe and are among the poorest on the continent.

Out of all three only North Macedonia is a member of Nato (the alliance's most recent addition) and none are members of the EU.

Reliance on Russian gas in selected European countries (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/EU data)
Reliance on Russian gas in selected European countries (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/EU data)

Despite this, all three have expressed interest in joining the EU, and Moldova and Bosnia have also said they would like to join Nato.

This is important because both the EU and Nato have been central to coordinating the response to the invasion in Ukraine.

All of these countries still use coal heavily, but as its use has declined in recent years it has been replaced by Russian gas.

What other European nations rely heavily on Russian gas?

Finland and Lativa, both share a border with Russia and import more than 90% of their gas from there.

Both also use more gas to meet their energy needs than Moldova, North Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina but it still makes up a minority of their overall supply.

Watch: Will Europe have to return to coal if Russia cuts off gas imports

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Germany gets around 50% of their gas from Russia and it makes up around 20% of their energy output - far higher than all of the other nations mentioned.

Italy gets slightly less of their gas from Russia than Germany does, but it makes up for around 40% of its energy output.

Many nations, including the UK, have used gas as a stop-gap as they turn away from heavily polluting coal but are still establishing their renewable energy sources.

In all, around 40% of Europe's gas demand is met by Russia, with Norway and Algeria also being major contributors.

A flame generated by a gas hob. Energy prices will rise by £693 a year for millions of households after regulator Ofgem hiked the price cap on bills to £1,971 or 54%. Picture date: Thursday February 3, 2022. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)
Gas prices have been at record highs for months, causing strain for millions. (Getty)

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With Russian gas now politically toxic to many nations, leaders have been forced to come up with ways to end their reliance on it.

Germany recently announced they would be slowing their exit from coal as a result of the crisis, despite the measure being announced by a Green energy minister.

Germany has also stopped certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which would have carried Russian gas to Germany.

Italy has also made moves to end its reliance on Russian gas with Prime Minister Mario Draghi saying they would look to Algeria, Libya and Azerbaijan to meet demand and fill storage before next winter.

This isn't a guaranteed success as many nations in North Africa face instability and chronic underfunding.

An employee passes near valves and pipes at a gas compressor station in the village of Boyarka, outside Kiev, April 22, 2015. Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom said on Wednesday that issues of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine's rebel-held eastern regions remain unresolved and that Ukraine's energy firm Naftogaz owes it $174.2 million for those supplies. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Russian gas keeps the lights on in much of Europe. (Getty)

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All of this will come at a cost, which countries will likely be forced to push onto their population who are already unhappy with sky-high bills.

But analysts have said it is likely Russia's economy won't be truly hobbled without limiting its gas and oil sector which makes up almost 50% of its national revenue.

How can Europe reduce reliance on Russian gas?

The IEA has released a 10 point plan for reducing Europe's reliance on Russian gas this year by a third.

They suggest:

  • No new gas supply contracts with Russia

  • Replace Russian supplies with gas from alternative sources

  • Introduce minimum gas storage obligations to enhance market resilience

  • Accelerate the deployment of new wind and solar projects

  • Maximise generation from existing dispatchable low-emissions sources: bioenergy and nuclear

  • Enact short-term measures to shelter vulnerable electricity consumers from high prices

  • Speed up the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps

  • Accelerate energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industry

  • Encourage a temporary thermostat adjustment by consumers

  • Step up efforts to diversify and decarbonise sources of power system flexibility

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