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Energy secretary issues Russia warning

Energy secretary Ed Davey has warned gas and electricity prices will rise in the UK, unless action is taken against Russia.

He said something needs to be done to prevent president Vladimir Putin from holding countries to ransom over supplies.

Tension between the EU and Russia has grown in recent months following the internal overthrowing of the Ukrainian government, followed by Russia's occupation of the Crimea region.

Mr Davey told the Times: "It can't be right for Russia to hold individual countries to ransom. This is an issue we cannot allow to go off the table.

"There have been at least two, if not three, occasions in recent times when Russia has sought to use its energy superpower status in quite an aggressive manner."

He revealed the topic of secure access to energy will be discussed at a meeting of the G7 nations - formerly the G8 before Russia was kicked out due to its actions in Ukraine - in Rome next month.

Possible discussion points could also include a debate on whether or not to reopen several nuclear power plants, while alternative suppliers will also be analysed.

The G7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the UK.

Approximately 25 per cent of the UK's energy comes from Russia, around half of which is transported through Ukraine, while Mr Putin claims it will be impossible for the west to stop buying from them.

Speaking in an interview last week, he said Russia provides 30 to 35 per cent of Europe's supply, which would make it difficult to become independent from the country.

The UK government will be keen to avoid any scenario which would see energy prices rise, with the topic central to an ongoing political debate.

Ed Miliband has pledged to freeze prices should Labour come into power at the next election in 2015, while a competition enquiry is set to be held to investigate the Big Six firms.

Posted by Paul Taylor