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Last year, Russia supplied 40% of the EU’s total gas, but with the war raging on between Russia and Ukraine, Ukraine is now saying that Russia is waging a “gas war” against the EU. This is because on Monday, the state-owned Russian energy firm Gazprom, which owns key gas pipelines that supply gas into the EU region, is reducing gas flows into Germany by half, just days after resuming gas flow to the country. This comes after a maintenance period where the supply was already reduced.
Gazprom has already cut gas flow completely to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland for not paying the Kremlin for gas in rubles. As winter approaches in Europe, artificial gas shortages from Russia would threaten power generation.
Now, the EU has approved a plan to curb its gas demand to prepare for future gas supply reductions from Russia. EU energy ministers agreed for all member states to voluntarily cut gas consumption by 15% from August of this year through March of 2023, and how these countries do this is up to them. But if member states fail to reach the target of this cut by mid-September, then the EU could make it mandatory. The only country opposed to the deal was Hungary. This cut would provide the energy needed for an average winter, but if it becomes unusually harsh, more measures may need to be taken.
“This is a politically motivated step, and we have to be ready for that. And exactly for that reason, the preemptive reduction of our gas demand is a wise strategy," said EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson regarding Gazprom’s announcement.
“The winter is coming and we don’t know how cold it will be," said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela. “But what we know for sure is that Putin will continue to play his dirty games in misusing and blackmailing by gas supplies."
"Gazprom has always fulfilled and will fulfill all of its obligations," said Russia’s Putin, adding, “Our partners are trying to shift the blame for their own mistakes to Gazprom without any basis."
“Germany made a strategic error in the past with its great dependency on Russian gas and faith that it would always flow constantly and cheaply," said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck. “But it is not just a German problem."