Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told Europeans to expect a tough winter due to Russia’s invasion of his country, which has led to restrictions on oil and gas exports from Russia. Reuters reported this today, citing Zelensky’s regular video message, according to which Moscow wants to destroy the normal life of Europeans.
“Russia is preparing a decisive energy strike on all Europeans this winter,” Zelenskyy said. “They are trying to attack with poverty and political chaos where they cannot yet attack with missiles,” he added.
Zelenskyy said this after the Russian giant Gazprom announced that it would not yet resume gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is crucial for Europe. Supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which carries gas to Europe from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, were interrupted for three days and were due to resume flowing on Saturday morning. According to Gazprom, the maintenance of the only operational turbine of the gas pipeline revealed defects. Until they are removed, the gas pipeline will remain out of service.
However, Siemens Energy, which supplied some of the equipment and provides service for Nord Stream, said that the defect, specifically the oil leak, does not represent a sufficient technical obstacle to stop the gas flow, as the equipment can be sealed on site. Such action is part of routine repairs, the company said.
The European Commission has accused Gazprom of stopping supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under false pretenses. “It’s further confirmation of his unreliability as a supplier,” commission spokesman Eric Mamer said. “It is also proof of the cynicism of Russia, which prefers to burn gas rather than fulfill its obligations,” he added.
Energy as a weapon
The situation surrounding Russian gas supplies became more complicated when Russia launched an attack on Ukraine in February and the European Union enacted a series of anti-Russian sanctions in retaliation. Moscow reduced supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to 40 percent of capacity in June, and to 20 percent in July. She cited maintenance issues caused by the sanctions. But the European Union says the technical problems are just a pretext and that Moscow is using the gas as a weapon to advance its interests.
According to some analysts, shortages and a rise in the cost of living as winter approaches threaten to weaken support for Kiev from the West, which is struggling to deal with a disgruntled population.
The G7 finance ministers agreed on Friday to cap the prices of Russian oil and oil products. Russia has warned that it will not supply oil to countries that support such a move. At the same time, Russia is one of the world’s largest oil exporters. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the measure approved today will also help lower global energy prices.
The President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, then said that it is time to set an upper limit for Russian gas prices as well.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today that his government was anticipating a complete shutdown of gas supplies in December, but promised that his country would weather the winter. “Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin.
Europe without Russian gas
Germany has another recipe for an energy crisis. It proposes to change the rail transport system so that coal and other key goods are given priority over passenger transport.