Zelenskiy Urges Europe To Increase Sanctions On Russia Over Gazprom's 'Gas War'
By RFE/RL July 25, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Europe to retaliate against Russia's "gas war" by boosting its sanctions against Moscow after Gazprom announced that it will cut daily gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20 percent of capacity later this week.
"Today we heard new gas threats to Europe," Zelenskiy said in his evening video address on July 25. "This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe."
The state-owned Russian gas giant Gazprom earlier cited the "technical condition" of another turbine on the pipeline, saying that from July 27 it would be halting its operation.
Gazprom resumed gas flows through Nord Stream 1 last week after a 10-day maintenance break, but only at 40 percent of the pipeline's capacity. Russia said it was forced to lower the volume because of the delayed return of a turbine that was sent to Canada for maintenance.
Germany's energy regulator on July 25 reiterated Berlin's position that the cuts are not necessary for technical issues.
The Federal Network Agency found "no technical reason" for the curtailment and is closely monitoring the situation, a spokesperson for the agency said on July 25.
Klaus Mueller, head of the agency, recently warned that Germany remains "at the mercy of Russia" because it can decide how much gas flows through Nord Stream 1.
The government has said the reduction in gas flow is punishment for the EU imposing tough sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week accused Russia of using energy as a weapon as she warned that Europe must prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas flows.
Von der Leyen was quoted on July 25 as saying that "it's obvious the Kremlin is not a reliable partner for Europe's energy supply."
In addition to the issues with Nord Stream 1, Gazprom has deliberately kept its storage levels low, and Russia is supplying 12 EU member states only partially with gas or not at all, she said in an interview with the German Press Agency, dpa.
To prepare for the consequences of a complete halt to gas supplies from Russia, Europe needs to save 15 percent of its gas consumption by March and "should start immediately because the faster we act, the more we save -- and the safer we are."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on July 25 pushed back against complaints about gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1, saying they would be increased as much as was technically possible.
Russia is not interested in stopping gas supplies to Europe, he said, according to Interfax.
"Russia is a responsible gas supplier, and whatever is said by the European Commission, in European capitals or in the U.S., Russia was and remains the country that largely guarantees Europe's energy security," Peskov added.
A total shutdown of imports or a sharp reduction could result in factory closures and force households to either turn down the heat or pay even higher prices.
Last year, 40 percent of the EU's total gas imports came from Russia.
Gazprom's announcement on July 25 about its further reduction of gas flow came after it raised questions about the turbine for a compressor station on the pipeline's Russian end after Siemens Energy sent it to Canada for maintenance.
It could not be returned to Russia because of sanctions, but Canada subsequently said it would be delivered to Germany to get around the sanctions, and that is where the German government said it was last week.
Gazprom said in an earlier statement it had received documents issued by Canadian authorities but after studying them, "had to conclude that they do not eliminate the previously identified risks and give rise to additional questions."
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Siemens Energy's export documents are complete, but Russia refuses to issue import documents. The company confirmed that it could transport the part immediately from Germany to Russia once it has the paperwork.
"Russia is breaking contracts and blaming others," Habeck said. Russian President Vladimir Putin "is playing a duplicitous game."
Gazprom's statement also said that issues regarding European Union and British sanctions "remain unresolved for Gazprom" and a resolution is important for delivering the turbine "and performing urgent major repair of other turbine engines" for the same compressor station.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa. and Interfax
Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/gazprom-plans-further- shutdowns/31959115.html
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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