The European Union is urging Russia and its neighbours to commit to long-term energy contracts that will guarantee them affordable oil and natural gas supplies. The appeal came on the first day of a two-day conference of officials from the 25 EU nations and oil and gas exporting countries.

It showed once again Europe’s desire to try and secure long-term supplies for its energy in hot competition from India and China, who are prepared to deal with any country to get resources.

Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign and security affairs chief, told the conference that. “The scramble for energy risks being pretty unprincipled,” Solana told an EU energy conference. “However we choose to deal with such regimes, others will put their energy needs above everything else. Overall world energy consumption is set to increase by well over 50 percent over the next 25 years.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is overseeing the drafting of an energy policy for the EU, which will be unveiled next March. It will commit the 25-nation EU to greatly diversify its sources and types of energy, develop more renewables and boost energy savings while acknowledging it will continue to depend on often unstable, undemocratic nations to provide energy to fuel Western Europe’s growth.

Key to the EU’s short-term energy future is Russia, which EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner called a “key strategic partner” whose sale of oil and gas to the EU has helped fuel the country’s economic revival. In turn, “the stable flow of reasonably priced energy has been an important factor underlying the EU’s economic growth and well-being,” Ferrero-Waldner said. “It is this ‘win-win’ situation which both sides must work to reinforce”.

Try telling that to Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-Russian spy currently fighting for his life in a London hospital. Everyone suspects he was poisoned by Putin’s henchmen to hardly a whisper of protest by the EU.