The EU must prepare for "very challenging" weeks ahead due to the pressure exerted by Russia's "hybrid war" on the bloc's economy and energy supply, its foreign policy chief warned on Monday.
"The next weeks will be very challenging, first of all, for Ukrainians by paying with their lives a high toll to this war, but also for other Europeans with the economic and energy stress," Josep Borrell said via video link at an inter-parliamentary event hosted by the Czech Republic's legislature in the capital Prague.
Accusing Moscow of waging a "hybrid war" against the bloc and weaponizing the energy crisis, Borrell said at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference for Common Foreign and Security Policy that Europe faces "difficult prospects."
He also underlined that the rest of the world, especially African countries, would also suffer from the consequences of the war, stressing that it was not the bloc's sanctions against Russia that caused the economic crisis but the conflict itself that Brussels has sought to stop by imposing restrictive measures.
At the same time, Borrell asserted that the impact of EU sanctions on the Russian economy was "certainly increasing," especially in high-tech sectors, such as aviation.
He also explained that the Russian energy sector was in "deflation mode" as it could not "continue developing" gas and oil capacities without Western technology.
The EU's winter energy supply has become uncertain amid recent decisions by Moscow to curb gas exports to the bloc and record-high market prices for fossil fuels, prompting inflation.
EU ministers in charge of energy will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the situation, while the European Commission is preparing a structural reform of the bloc's energy market.
Since Russia started a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, the EU has imposed seven sanctions packages, banning gold, oil, and coal imports, and the export of luxury goods and advanced technology. It has also excluded Russian and Belarusian banks from the international payment system SWIFT.