Italy is ethically obliged to stop buying Russian gas “soon” as the payments are funding the Ukraine war, the country’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said in an interview Thursday.
“I think that we will have to stop supplies of gas from Russia soon for ethical reasons,” he told La Stampa newspaper.
The minister is currently on a two-day trip to Angola and Congo Republic seeking energy deals as Italy scrambles to reduce its dependency on Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italian gas.
“We are diversifying our sources with great speed,” he said.
“It is clear that all of Europe is heavily dependent on Russia for gas, and this has been a major geopolitical mistake made over the past 20 years,” he said.
“It is useless to think that we can solve it in a month. From a certain point of view, however, this money is a lot... we are indirectly financing the war.”
Cingolani predicted the country would no longer need Russian gas within 18 months.
Just two weeks earlier he had said he expected it to take up to three years.
“By the second half of next year we will really begin to have an almost complete independence,” he told La Stampa.
Italy is one of Europe’s biggest guzzlers of gas, which currently represents 42 percent of its energy consumption, and it imports 95 percent of the gas it uses.
The foray into Angola and the Congo Republic follows the clinching of agreements with Algeria and Egypt in recent weeks.
The government is also readying so-called “operation thermostat,” which could see the public sector forced to use less heating and air conditioning, and the general public called to follow suit.
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