Russia cut gas flows to the two countries for rejecting its demand to pay in roubles, targeting European economies in its toughest retaliation so far for international sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
“That action is likely to be counterproductive in really demonstrating to everybody why a dependence on Russia makes them vulnerable to coercion of this nature,” one of the two officials told reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Europe is working to ensure it is no longer in that dependent position and that “will be to Russia’s long-term detriment strategically and economically”, the official said.
Moscow says the gas cut-off is to enforce its demand for payment in roubles, needed to shield its economy from sanctions.
The officials also said Russia was threatening an unlawful act when Moscow warned of an immediate “proportional response” if, in its view, Britain continued to provoke Ukraine to strike targets in Russia.
“It is a conflict between Russia and Ukraine provoked by Russia’s illegal aggression. We are entitled to provide military support to any state exercising its right to self-defence, and that is lawful. The Russian statement threatening retaliatory strikes is unlawful,” one official said.