Kyiv residents told to save gas for troops fighting Russia, stop driving

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Municipal officials in Kyiv on Friday urged residents to stop driving private vehicles to conserve Ukraine’s limited fuel supplies for troops fighting off the Russian invasion, in an announcement that reflected uncertainty about energy stability across Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

The city administration encouraged commuters to use public transit, which is slowly being restored after Russian forces aborted their attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital about a month ago. “Remember the needs of the army,” officials said in a Telegram post.

The wartime measures are a reminder that the global spike in energy prices that followed Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion has had very different consequences for Moscow and Kyiv. Two months after Russia attacked, Ukrainians outside the immediate battlefield are struggling to reclaim a sense of normalcy. (Kyiv now runs 140 buses, 70 trams, and 77 trolley buses, city data show, up from roughly 150 buses and 30 trams on April 5, just days after Russian forces pulled out of the capital’s suburbs.)

By contrast, Russia has earned tens of billions of dollars from exporting oil and natural gas, mostly to European Union countries.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged Ukraine’s fuel shortage in an address Friday night. Russia has announced that it is targeting Ukrain’s fuel facilities, and Zelensky noted that the Kremlin’s blockade of his country’s sea ports has worsened the energy crunch.

“Queues and rising prices at gas stations are seen in many regions of our country,” he said.

Zelensky said his government would create a “system of fuel supply” within two weeks to alleviate the problem, “no matter how difficult it may be.” He did not elaborate but said Ukraine also must “take from the European Union as much fuel as our citizens need now.” What he meant was not immediately clear. Some of Russia’s energy exports reach E.U. countries via pipelines that cross Ukrainian territory.

Lengthening war in Ukraine creates major problems for global economy

The E.U. is grappling with major energy challenges, with Russia this week suspending shipments of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria. As the bloc sanctions Moscow for its aggression and moves to reduce its energy purchases from Russia, prices are spiking. Inflation in the euro zone — the 19 countries using the euro as their currency — rose to 7.5 percent this month; energy inflation hovered at around 40 percent on an annualized basis.

The 27-member E.U. is still dependent on Russia for energy, with average monthly payments to Moscow for fossil fuel purchases increasing severalfold in recent months.

E.U. countries have purchased about $46 billion worth of oil, natural gas and coal from Russia since the invasion began, or about $23 billion monthly, according to a report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a Finland-based think tank. Last year, E.U. imports of Russian energy totaled $104 billion, averaging out to just over $8.5 billion monthly, according to the European Commission.

In the two months since it attacked Ukraine, Russia has exported an additional $20 billion of fossil fuels to non-E.U. countries, including South Korea, Japan and Turkey, all of which have condemned the Kremlin’s invasion. China has purchased about $7 billion of Russian fossil fuels since war began.

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