Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Suffolk County Council has announced that it will be breaking away from its £10 million contract with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy supplier.
While the deal was scheduled to run up until 2021, providing gas to schools and offices throughout the county, the leader of the council Matthew Hicks announced that the county was “actively pursuing” ending the contract.
Commenting further on the announcement, Mr Hicks said:
“When Vladimir Putin made the immoral and utterly reprehensible decision to invade Ukraine, I instructed officers last week to review our contract with Russian-owned energy company Gazprom. I can confirm that we have decided to invoke our options to break away from the contract, ending our connection with Gazprom.”
The move has been welcomed by opposition members of the council, including the leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group. The authority confirmed that, from April next year all of its electricity would be supplied by EDF Energy for the next three years from renewable sources, including wing, hydro and solar power.
This comes as both UEFA and German football club Schalke 04 both cut ties with Gazprom over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Following the announcement, there are questions as to whether further councils throughout the UK will take similar actions in response to unfolding and escalating events in Ukraine after Prime Minister Boris Johnson today declared at Prime Ministers Questions that Vladimir Putin had carried out war crimes.
Wealden District Council uses Gazprom as its supplier for social housing, commented that they were looking at its “options and obligations.” Further to this, the Local Government Association, the representative body or councils in England and Wales said:
“Councils are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine and are following the situation closely. It is up to individual councils to decide how to act locally but, like many organisations, they will be reviewing what action they might want to take in light of UK sanctions and the ongoing situation.”
While the most severe economic sanctions that the UK place on Russia will come from central government, these developments form part of an evolving conversation around the ways in which local authorities can play a part in increasing pressure on the Putin regime. We will see in due course if further councils follow suit, however council-wide contracts are ones that no Russian firm will want to lose.