Russia lashes out at the West with new gas supplies

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France, Italy and Slovakia denounce partial and total export cuts they attribute to a “political decision” by Moscow

Russia deals another blow to the West with its best weapon: closing the gas tap. The president, Vladimir Putin, is escalating tensions with further cuts in his supply to the community countries, whose leaders are calling the move “blackmail.” A week after four months since Moscow invaded Ukraine, the war is waged on the country and also on the global market, where the Kremlin is playing with the energy vulnerabilities of the European Union. Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark have experienced complete power outages, while Germany, Austria and Italy have seen significant power cuts. France, for its part, will not get a single cubic meter more.

Europe consumes an average of 40% of the gas from Russia. The figure rises in cases such as Germany, which reaches 55%, and in Bulgaria, to 85%. Dependent France receives about 17%. In this country, the supply has fallen by 60% since the beginning of the year and has now been reduced to zero. On Wednesday, “the physical flow between France and Germany was interrupted”, as announced Friday by the operator of the French network GRTgaz, which does not know the cause of the cut, although it takes place just as the company Gazprom makes the delivery to Berlin via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

However, the Paris government does not currently foresee any circumstance, largely due to the increase in liquefied natural gas (LNG) to 66%. GRTgaz has even confirmed that the reserves are 56% covered.

Italy, which receives 40% of Russia’s gas, has also received a new energy boost. Eni firm said on Friday that Gazprom has supplied only 50% of the requested “63 million cubic meters”. The setback comes a day after the head of the government, Mario Draghi, accused Moscow of lying for attributing the reduction in Europe’s supply of maintenance work. “There is a political utility,” he noted.

Draghi refers to the reason Gazprom gave about the latest austerity measures to EU countries. He argued that a malfunction caused him to paralyze a team from the German group Siemens, present in the gas pipeline. Berlin, its main consumer, denounced it as a “political decision” and Putin’s “pretext” for the war.

Slovakia also criticized that it had only received 50% of the requested delivery. Its energy supplier, the company SPP, has in recent days denounced that supplies are gradually declining. On Tuesday, they were down 10%, 15% the next day, and more than 30% on Thursday.

The Kremlin, for its part, denies that there is any strange background. “We only know that there is a problem with the turbines,” said Russian presidency spokesman Dimitri Peskov, because of the criticism received after reducing power to Italy and especially to Germany, via Nord Stream. In the latter case, the cut means that imports go from 167 million cubic meters per day to just 67. The situation is serious and the German economy minister, Robert Habeck, has called on the population to save energy. “Every kilowatt hour helps us,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, one of the West’s main goals is to gradually end Russian dependency and get other energy options. In that sense, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, this Friday called for greater use of renewable energy sources. “Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack on neighboring Ukraine has fueled a global energy crisis and increased the need for long-term energy security,” he said.

From Gazprom, they are defending their position to increasingly reduce gas supplies to Europe since the beginning of Western sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine, which has lasted almost four months. “It’s our product, it’s our rules. We don’t follow rules that we haven’t established,” said the company’s manager, Alexei Miller, stating that “Russia is a reliable energy supplier for Russia’s friends.”

As for the “reason” for the latest cuts (an equipment failure from the German group Siemens), Miller pointed out that there is no early fix for the damage. “The turbine is in the factory, Siemens can’t pick it up and the other turbines don’t fit,” he explains.

For this reason, the head of Gazprom has dropped the possibility of using the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the construction of which has already been completed, although it is not operational due to sanctions against Russia.

Source: La Verdad

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