Romanian leader says allies must wean off Russia gas dependence at meet over Ukraine as conflict escalates

Joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis

President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday said allies should wean off on Russian gas at a virtual meeting of EU and NATO leaders convened by U.S. President Joe Biden.

The videoconference kicked off just Tuesday afternoon and brought together the leaders of France, Britain, Germany, Romania, Poland, Italy, Canada and Japan.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also took part in the call, as well as the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

The meeting was to address “efforts to hold Russia accountable,” the White House said. It came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia, which invaded its  neighbor on February 24, recently launched a large-scale offensive in the eastern Donbas region, a move predicted by Kyiv for weeks.

Fighting has intensified in eastern Ukraine after Russia withdrew troops from the region around the capital Kyiv and refocused its efforts in Donbas, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014.

The United States and Western allies have piled sanctions on Russia, while  supporting Ukraine through military and other aid.

„President Klaus Iohannis called for determined and coordinated actions to eliminate energy dependence on Russia, stressing also that sanctions have proved to be an effective tool,” a statement from his office said.

Leaders reaffirmed their support for the International Criminal Court to investigate and hold accountable  those responsible for crimes,” a statement said. They also discussed fresh sanctions.

Mr Iohannis spoke about  the “broad impact of the current crisis on the security situation on the Alliance’s Eastern Flank, especially in the Black Sea,” and of strengthening NATO’s presence on the eastern flank,  long-term.

He said leaders  should help Moldova, located between Ukraine and Romania, manage the influx of Ukrainian refugees and in an eventual new energy crisis.

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