OSLO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday urged Norway, the second-biggest supplier of gas to Europe behind Russia, to deliver more energy to his country and the European Union.
Addressing the Norwegian parliament via video link, he also called for a ban on Russian vessels in Europe’s ports.
“You can make a decisive contribution to the energy security of Europe by providing the necessary resources, both for the countries of the European Union and for Ukraine,” he said in a speech that ended with a long standing ovation from lawmakers.
“We already started the dialogue on the supply of about five billion cubic metres of gas for the next heating season”, Zelensky added.
Prior to the conflict in Ukraine, Norway supplied between 20 and 25 percent of the EU’s and Britain’s gas needs, while 45 to 50 percent was supplied by Russia.
The EU is now trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Oslo has taken steps to maintain its gas production at its maximum level throughout the summer, which is normally a period when gas companies take advantage of low demand to carry out maintenance on their offshore platforms.
“We are delivering as much as we can”, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store reiterated Wednesday in an interview with Norwegian channel TV2.
Zelensky also said Russian ships should be banned from Europe’s ports.
“The European Union, and I hope also Norway, have to introduce a ban for Russian vessels to use European ports”.
“For the time being, while (the Russians) are blocking our ports, they should not have the right of using the ports of the free world”, he insisted.
As in his previous addresses to other countries’ parliaments, Zelensky reiterated his plea for more weapons, including anti-ship missiles, anti-armoured vehicle systems, and anti-air defences.
Earlier Wednesday, Norway announced it had supplied an additional 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, doubling the number sent to the country since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
The Norwegian government also announced that it was donating 20 million euros ($22 million) through the World Bank to finance Ukrainian government services, in order to pay the salaries of health care workers, teachers and civil servants, as well as pensions and social benefits.