While the leaders of Germany, France and Italy toured the devastated areas of Ukraine on Thursday and showed their support for kyiv, the political-energy arm of the Kremlin, Gazprom, has sent a new message to the European Union with its particular protest against the sanctions that are crippling Russian industry. The French gas company Engie has denounced this Thursday that the gas supply it receives from the Slavic country has decreased, a day after Berlin and Rome suffered a similar reduction by Moscow.
These three countries are not the only ones affected. The Slovakian gas company SPP has revealed this Thursday that Gazprom has cut around 30% of the gas it had contracted, while another country that defends imposing softer sanctions and has opted to maintain closer ties with Russia, Austria, neither has avoided being subjected to these pressures. Its gas company OMV has also received the dreaded letter from Gazprom.
Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller told the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that his company is delighted with the supply cuts. “Yes, the pumping of gas to Europe has decreased by two percentage digits, but prices have not only remained the same, they have multiplied. If I say that we are not angry, I would not be lying”, stressed the oligarch, who has also hinted that Germany should consider opening the second gas pipeline built between the two countries, Nord Stream 2, because “it has pressure and can supply gas from today”. Berlin suspended the certification of the gas pipeline last February and decided to paralyze the project due to Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The shipment of Russian gas outside the post-Soviet space sank in the first half of the year by 28.9% compared to the same period last year, while its price has exceeded historical barriers. Miller has predicted that it will become even more expensive in Europe. “Demand will grow significantly in the Asia-Pacific market, and in the second half of the year European importers will battle with Chinese, Indian and rest of Asian buyers for ‘golden’ liquefied natural gas.”
“Our product, our rules”, underlined the president of Gazprom, who has predicted that the primacy of the dollar and the Bretton Woods 2 agreements against protectionism are fading, and Russia’s turn has come. The company, Miller has assured, has increased its supply to China by 67% in the first five months of the year.
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The Chinese market hardly makes up for the European loss, however. According to the newspaper I dressed, China paid Russia 2,360 million dollars (about 2,257 million euros) for its gas, both through pipelines and liquefied, between January and April. Four months in total, while the European Union pays the Kremlin the same amount every three days, according to figures compiled by Reuters.
Reduction in Nord Stream 1
Gazprom announced last Tuesday that it would reduce its pumping through the Portovaya compression station from 167 to 100 million cubic meters of gas per day, although a day later it reduced its forecast to 67 million. However, the German authorities assured that the pumping registered through Nord Stream 1 barely reached 40% of its capacity.
The origin of this new chapter of the gas war he is in Canada, where one of the turbines of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which directly connects Russian pumping stations with Germany across the Baltic Sea, was sent for repairs. The piece has not yet been returned to Europe, because Canada, by virtue of the sanctions against Gazprom, is holding it, according to Siemens Energy. The energy company, which left the Russian market in mid-April, explained to this newspaper that the huge volume of cut gas cannot be attributed, however, only to “technical reasons” like this.
Moscow blames Europe for the reduction in supply. “We only know that the problem is that the turbines do not return, that they were blocked somewhere. These are again the consequences of the sanctions, it is not deliberate at all,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
Germany assures that the Russian justifications “are nothing more than an excuse” to destabilize the European Union. An accusation similar to the one already made by Ukraine against Russia more than a month ago, when it had requested to transfer the flow of gas that passed through the Sojranivka station to a larger one, Sudya, after denouncing that the separatist territories supported by Moscow they kept part of the pumping that was to reach the community block.
Gas is the main source of financing for the Russian government, including the war machine it has deployed in its offensive on Ukraine. Among other measures, the European Union has advocated reducing its imports by two thirds this year and cutting them off altogether in 2027. Several countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, have seen their supply canceled for refusing to abide by the mechanism for payment in rubles promoted by Putin.