BORIS Johnson today compared Vladimir Putin to a drug dealer who has got the West hooked on his supply of oil and gas.
The PM said the Kremlin was “feeding an addiction” to cheap energy but European countries in particular must kick it.
Speaking as he met Nordic leaders in London, Mr Johnson stressed the need to build the “widest possible coalition” to respond to Russia.
He said: “Vladimir Putin over the last yeast has been like a pusher, feeding an addiction in western countries to his hydrocarbons.
“We need to get ourselves off that addiction.”
The PM said the West needs to “learn our lesson” and avoid ever being in the position where it can be “blackmailed” by Putin again.
But he said the Ukraine invasion has sparked a sea change in Europe, with EU countries pledging to end their reliance on Moscow.
Brussels has unveiled plans to cut imports from Russia by two-thirds before the end of the year.
Boris said: “Listen to what all the other European countries are now saying. Three weeks ago, they wouldn’t have said that was possible.
“A month ago before the invasion, everybody was saying ‘oh, no, we’ll get we’ll never be able to do it’.
“Now, after what Putin has done in Ukraine, you’re seeing European colleagues step up to the plate.”
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The PM said it was “unbelievable” that Putin’s savagery had dragged Europe back to a level of conflict not seen since WW2.
He added: “We need to make sure that we build the strongest, widest possible coalition to ensure that Vladimir Putin does not succeed.”
To do so Western European nations must “wean ourselves off Russian hydrocarbons and that is what the Uk is helping to do”, he insisted.
Boris also defended his upcoming trip to the Gulf, saying it was part of efforts to end energy reliance on Moscow.
The PM will jet beg oil-rich kingdoms to turn on the taps — as hopes soar Rishi Sunak will slash fuel duty.
The PM and Chancellor are eyeing a two-pronged approach to solving the crisis after forecourt prices hit another record of 163.5p a litre for petrol and 173.4p for diesel.
Mr Johnson will urge desert rulers to increase crude production to drive down the global price.
And Tory MPs are increasingly confident Mr Sunak will take “at least a couple of pennies” off fuel duty in his spring statement.
A cut next week would be a huge win for UK Times’s Keep It Down campaign that has kept the hated 57.95p levy frozen for 12 years.
Experts warned prices could hit £2.40 and £3 a litre this year due to the Ukraine war, heaping pressure on the Government to step in.
MPs were told that the price of crude oil may go up by another 50 per cent as the West cuts off Putin and looks elsewhere for supplies.
Yesterday France became the latest country to slash fuel taxes, announcing a rebate to help hard-up motorists with soaring costs.
They followed Ireland and Portugal by slashing 0.15 euros off a litre for the next four months.
Nathan Piper, head of Oil and Gas at Investec, told the Treasury Committee: “For consumers in 2022, get ready for what will be continued increases in fuel prices — it’s going to rise up a lot before demand kicks in. Not to be flippant, but. . . pick a number.”
In a sign of movement, a Treasury source said: “We keep all taxes under review.” Any cut in duty is likely to be paid for by massive increases in VAT on high fuel prices.
Meanwhile Mr Johnson will this week hold his nose over human rights abuses and beg Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to increase production in their backyards.
The price of crude oil dropped slightly yesterday, but cutting off Russian supplies in the wake of the war risks months of volatility.
An increase in Gulf production would help drive the global price down, but last night campaigners accused the PM of “trading oil for blood” after the Saudis executed 81 at the weekend.
Mr Johnson is preparing to visit the capital Riyadh to see controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the hope his kingdom will make up for a reduced reliance on Russia.
But angry Tory Crispin Blunt warned Mr Johnson will face “exquisite difficulties” given he will arrive just days after a massive round of executions.
Mr Blunt also begged Mr Johnson to make clear Britain’s concerns.
The row came as a new Energy Security Strategy promised by the PM “within days” was delayed.
The plan, which will hike nuclear power and could even restart fracking, will now be published “this month”, No10 said.
Mr Johnson may give a major speech on energy as early as the Tory spring conference, which will be held in Blackpool this weekend.
Old coal power stations could stay open for longer in a scramble to buy time before opening new nuclear sites.
But any extension would not be for long — as ministers have pledged to close all of them completely by October 2024 as part of efforts to go greener.
Fracked if we know!
By Natasha Clark
MINISTERS are at loggerheads with a fracking company over whether to concrete over two shale gas wells.
There was talk of the Lancashire sites being used for research amid fears over Russian gas supplies.
But owner Cuadrilla says it has no idea whether to plough on.
The Department for Business has insisted the firm can apply for an extension, yet regulators are yet to receive a request.
Privately, insiders suggested the two sides were still haggling over compensation.
The confusion came as Andrea Leadsom, who paused fracking in 2019 when she was Energy Secretary, backed a rethink — as long as those living nearby were given free gas.