Russia switches off Europe’s main gas pipeline until sanctions are lifted


Russia’s gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume in full until the “collective west” lifts sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has said.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, blamed EU, UK and Canadian sanctions for Russia’s failure to deliver gas through the key pipeline, which delivers gas to Germany from St Petersburg via the Baltic sea.

“The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions western countries introduced against our country and several companies,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.”

Peskov’s comments were the starkest demand yet by the Kremlin that the EU roll back its sanctions in exchange for Russia resuming gas deliveries to the continent.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-run gas monopoly, said late on Friday it would halt gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 because of a technical fault, which it blamed on difficulties repairing German-made turbines in Canada. The German government and the EU has disputed the technical justification.

“It is important to recall that there is not just one gas pipeline from Russia to Europe,” said Tim McPhie, the European Commission’s energy spokesman on Monday. “If there was a technical problem which was impeding supplies via Nord Stream 1, there would be a possibility, if there was willingness, to deliver gas to Europe through other pipelines. That’s something we’re not seeing happening.”

The euro fell to a 20-year low against the dollar, as much as 0.7 per cent to $0.988 in London trading on Monday, the first time markets opened following Gazprom’s surprise announcements.

Russia is still supplying gas to Europe via Soviet-era pipelines through Ukraine that have remained open despite the invasion, as well as the South Stream pipeline via Turkey.

Russian officials have made little secret in recent weeks of their hope that the growing energy crisis in Europe will sap the bloc’s support for Ukraine. “Obviously life is getting worse for people, businessmen, and companies in Europe,” Peskov said. “Of course, ordinary people in these countries will have more and more questions for their leaders.”

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was even more explicit on Sunday after German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a €65bn aid package to soften the blow of soaring energy bills.

Now deputy chair of Russia’s security council, Medvedev said Germany was “acting as an enemy of Russia” by supporting sanctions against Moscow and supplying Ukraine with weapons. “They have declared hybrid war against Russia,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram. “And this old man acts surprised that the Germans have some little problems with gas.”

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Brussels



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